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Mel Chin's animatronic sculpture Wake and companion mixed reality piece Unmoored unveiled in Times Square
Wake by Mel Chin. Commissioned by Times Square Arts in partnership with No Longer Empty and the Queens Museum. Supported by the Times Square Alliance. Image courtesy of Chelsea Lipman for Times Square Arts.

NEW YORK, NY.- Times Square Arts, No Longer Empty and Queens Museum present artist Mel Chin’s large-scale sculpture Wake and companion mixed reality piece Unmoored — developed with Microsoft — to explore a surrealistic experience of rising waters in Times Square. The works are active July 11 to September 5 at the Broadway Plaza between 46th Street and 47th Street as part of Mel Chin: All Over the Place. Visitors are being invited to engage with the sixty-foot animatronic installation Wake, which evokes the hull of a 19th century shipwreck crossed with the skeletal remains of a marine mammal. Viewers can simultaneously explore the blending of physical and digital worlds in Unmoored through a Microsoft HoloLens headset (July 11-13) or their mobile phones.

Through the ambitious paired works Wake and Unmoored in Times Square, Chin takes on the 19th century origins of celebrity and marketing, our changing relationship with nature, and the 21st Century ability to project an audience deep into the future through technology. Chin creates a virtual gateway to an alternate future to test viewers’ imaginations about our place in the Earth’s transforming climate.

Mel Chin, artist, said: “I see Times Square as most Americans might; it represents the endless clock, the public heart of New York City,” says artist Mel Chin. “Placing a work in Times Square tests its capacity to engage the imaginations of a population that is more diverse than in any museum or gallery I can think of.”

Wake is a large-scale (24 feet by 34 feet by 60 feet) installation that evokes the hull of a shipwreck crossed with the skeletal remains of a marine mammal. The structure is linked with a carved 21-foot-tall animatronic female sculpture — accurately derived from a figurehead of the opera star, “Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind — that was once mounted on the 19th Century clipper ship, the USS Nightingale.

Jenny Lind, the first superstar of the 1800s, entered a New York City emerging as a center of trade, commerce, finance, entertainment, and tourism. Chin begins his Times Square takeover with her as a figurehead of a complex history that includes the shipping (by the USS Nightingale, among others) of guns and slaves that augmented this burgeoning city’s economy.

Wake was engineered and fabricated at UNC Asheville’s STEAM Studio by an interdisciplinary team of students, faculty, staff, and community artists led by Chin, who was the university’s Black Mountain College Legacy Fellow.

The physical presence of Wake serves as a point of entry into Unmoored, a visionary mixed reality public art project that will be a draw for all ages and backgrounds.

Unmoored explores a potential future of melting ice caps and rising oceans filling Times Square. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, Unmoored allows guests to use Microsoft HoloLens to explore a submerged Times Square in mixed reality, or their mobile phones to access an augmented reality experience.

Guests who look up in Times Square will experience an incoming flotilla of boats of all kinds, making their way around existing buildings into the square — eventually creating a nautical traffic jam above. The boats age in the air; occasionally bumping into each other, waves break the silence of a surreal floating canopy of hulls. Apparitions of living forms appear, generated by light, and actively seeking connection to the human audience.

Unmoored’s augmented reality app is available for download and use in Times Square from July 11 through September 5, 2018 at Docents from No Longer Empty will be on-site Wednesdays through Fridays, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and weekends 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. to help visitors access the experience.

Mel Chin: All Over the Place spans nearly four decades of Chin’s wide-ranging artistic practice and is presented at sites including the Queens Museum, Times Square, the Broadway-Lafayette subway station, and streaming online with sound piece Soundtrack (

Mel Chin: All Over the Place is curated by Laura Raicovich, and Manon Slome, Co-Founder and Chief Curator of No Longer Empty and is a partnership with the Queens Museum of Art.

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