Times Square

Poster for Times Square (1977), designed by Max Neuhaus
Courtesy Estate of Max Neuhaus

In Times Square (1977–1992, since 2002), Max Neuhaus (1939–2009) positions static fields of sounds on the famous square in New York, on a traffic island in the midst of noisy traffic. Deeply rooted in our cultural memory as a visual icon of New York City, modern urban development, and advertising and information media through its popular representation in photography, film, and television, Times Square acquired its own acoustic design for the first time through this work. Even though Neuhaus uses the extraordinary site of this work to point out that the ear is given too little consideration in many life situations, he does not simply devalue traffic noise as harmful; instead, he integrates it through emerging contrasts into spatially and temporally structured interaction.

In his first permanent sound installation, Neuhaus purposefully remains restrained and refrains from any kind of labeling. In the best-case scenario, passersby are to comprehend the discreetly employed fields of sound as an urban curiosity, the aesthetic value of which they have discovered by themselves. Urban areas, which usually are subject to pragmatic considerations in their design, are thus given individual importance going beyond the control of traffic and consumer needs.

In the arrangement of his sound works, Neuhaus seeks to transport the temporal structure of music into a spatial structure. In 1974, he described the conceptual core of his sound installation: Traditionally, composers have located the elements of a composition in time. One idea which I am interested in is locating them, instead, in space, and letting the listener place them in his own time.[1]



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