Chris Doyle’s animation “The Fluid” depicts the rhythmic aspects of water at every scale. With its stylized depictions of landscape, the piece weaves together references to Hudson River School painting and Japanese Edo painting from the same historical moment, as well as 20th century abstraction. Drifting between abstraction and recognizable forms, “The Fluid” echoes the tidal motion of daily commuters passing through Fulton Center.
Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design, “The Fluid” is one of a group of digital animations by artist Chris Doyle based on the cycle of paintings “The Course of Empire,” by Hudson River painter Thomas Cole. Focused on the nature and movement of water, the animation references phase change to the global water cycle as well as the increasing anxiety over the fragility of that cycle. Presented as a constant flow, “The Fluid” streams between abstract and recognizable forms. As commuters move through the transit station, Doyle’s immersive 52-channel digital animation can be seen for two minutes at the top of each hour in the Fulton Center complex and the Dey Street pedestrian tunnel that connects to the R line and the World Trade Center PATH station.
The digital display network in Fulton Center is composed of 52 screens on various levels throughout the multifaceted public space/transportation hub, ranging from the 55-inch LCD screens that line the passageway on the concourse level to the massive LED walls on the street level. These measure 31.5 feet by 18.9 feet. The technological and aesthetic challenges for the artist to create artwork for each type of display and to make sure that art content was synced seamlessly were daunting, as was the coordination required to introduce art into a retail/transit complex with multiple stakeholders.
Through an arrangement with Westfield Properties, which manages Fulton Center under an agreement with the MTA, and with technical support from ANC Sports, the artwork is integrated as unique content that offers a moment of contemplation and a respite from the constant rotation of advertisements. Since September 2017, “The Fluid” airs for two minutes at the top of each hour simultaneously on a large-scale 52-channel video installation in the Fulton Center that ebbs and flows alongside MTA riders as they move through the station.
To date, Fulton Center houses the largest integrated digital signage network in a transportation hub in New York City, with nearly 66,000-square-feet of retail space. MTA Arts & Design’s Digital Art Program celebrates this state-of-the-art architecture by commissioning visually stimulating work by new media artists that engages both the space and our customers in a more impactful way. The modern, airy public space of Fulton Center is enlivened by Chris Doyle’s crisp, bold aesthetic and playful animation. This combination elicits a feeling of timelessness and wonder. Fulton Center has proven to be the launch pad from which the MTA Arts & Design Digital Art Program can grow throughout the MTA transportation network. Following the successful integration of digital artwork into this complex space, digital screens throughout the MTA system will feature elements of the program in coming years.
MTA Capital Construction
The Fluid won a DSE 2018 APEX Award in the Transportation category.