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Moveable Type

Many lobbies of corporations in New York feature art collections that are accessible to the public. The New York Times building commissioned a site specific piece for their Times Square lobby. Created by tech wizards Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen, the piece, “Moveable Type,” culls headlines and quotes from the newspaper’s 150+ year old archive.

Set to the somehow calming chatter of vintage typewriters, the quotes are emblazoned across 560 screens, which stretch across the walls on either side of the lobby.

The algorithm is specific- quotes starting with “I” or “you” are paired together, news is categorized into numbers, letters to the editor appear slowly and purposeful, as if the author were typing them in real time. The screens sometimes move in waves, and the viewer can feel a hundred years of news swim over and past them. The movement and frequency of the data that sweeps across each screen is directly affected by current news as well; it also draws content from a live feed from The New York Times in real-time, and also from comments from readers of The Times’ website. The screens also display basic patterns and images, such as the outline of states and countries.

Ruben and Hansen compare Moveable Type to a living organism, and they couldn’t be more correct. If The New York Times were a being, this would be it, living and breathing news, the 560 screens acting as lungs and lifeblood.

The piece is accessible to the public during regular business hours.

What: Moveable Type

Who: Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen

Where: The New York Times Building Lobby, 620 Eighth Avenue, 10018

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  1. […] And this fantastic blog about the New York Times Building Exhibition, […]

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