Most people I know say “What the hell is that thing? What is it counting?” as they point to the smoking, giant wall piece that is posted on the south side of Union Square. The answer is, one of the largest private commissions for public art in history.
With the Public Art Fund acting as a consultant, the developer Stephen M. Ross went through over 200 submissions before choosing “Metronome” by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel. Installed in 1999, the $3 million dollar piece is meant to symbolize the intangibility of time.
The central component, measuring 100 feet high and 60 feet wide, is formed of an undulating brick wall emanating a dark circular void surrounded by gold leaf overlay that dissipates across the panel into gold fragments. Below, a massive rock juts out through the brick wall, and to the left on the glass façade, is a digital time piece which counts the twenty-four hours of the day while simultaneously subtracting the time remaining in the day. To the right, is the lunar timepiece, composed of a sphere set into a socket, which is synchronized to revolve with the phases of the moon.
That said, it still reminds me of the façade of the Jekyll and Hyde restaurants, but at least now you know what it is.
Who: Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel
Where: One Union Square South
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