Spin City

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Here's something well off the beaten path, even as it circles around the beaten path: Gary Breslin of New York design/production company PanOptic, along with a 3-D modeler known as GMD Three, have made a 3:21 digital art short called Night Watch, which looks a bit like the open to a particularly weird videogame, or maybe an ambient music video (it's backed by "a cinematic hypnotic simulation of an orchestral score with authentic neighborhood sound design," by Drazen Bosnjak of Q Department). The camera circles what seems to be the same block in downtown Manhattan again and again, but each time the buildings look a little different, the after-dark illumination changes, and battalions of apartment windows occasionally disperse and reassemble in a sort of dance. Night Watch is "a continuation of PanOptic's recent work, which has been exploring and reinterpreting the urban landscape," explains Breslin. "I find I'm both inspired and depressed by my surroundings; I started working on this piece last summer, not long after the blackout in August; the idea coalesced when I was traveling by plane at night. What you see of cities is based solely on the lights that are left on. These traces of human habitation become vector points for architectural space. I wanted to see how this implied architectural space might seem if the points were to come apart, even move organically, and then re-form." The blackout, notes Breslin, "was the first time I'd seen how the city looked at twilight without a single artificial light, and, later, how it looked when it was pitch black. Not only had I never experienced anything like this before, but I had never even thought about how it might look. These are the kinds of events that help me to understand my environment in a more complete way. Just like it might if the block started to turn while I stood still, or if the lit windows became positive spaces moving on their own logic. This kind of visualization unplugs me from my banal relationships with the familiar space of the block I live on." But we bet it's still nice to have a 24-hour Korean deli. See www.panoptic.org for more.
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