Starting today, you can experience the sprawling landscapes of the Chilean Atacama Desert or the Iguazu Falls of Argentina smack dab in the middle of Manhattan—and snap a picture to commemorate your "trip".
This is thanks to PLAYLAB, the New York creative studio responsible for landmark projects like the + POOL and frequent collaborators with Virgil Abloh, who are continuing their public art project with the Avenue of the Americas Association with the new installation FANTASY LANDSCAPES. The project consists of a series of four hand-painted, immersive installations around the avenue. FANTASY LANDSCAPES follows their last project on location, Grown Up Flowers in 2018, which became a big hit on Instagram. "The flowers were about getting something that was historically here and blowing it up, giving it attention," notes PLAYLAB's Ana Cecilia Thompson Motta, "now we're bringing another part of the history which is that of the Avenue of the Americas. [New York City originally] wanted to bring all the Embassies here, so we wanted to bring a little more history and take people to the Americas through the Avenue."
PLAYLAB's 2018 installation "Grown Up Flowers"
The decision behind hand-painting stems from the old Hollywood practice of hand-painting backdrop sets as well as 50's tourist Americana travel posters. "These movie sets really transported the actors outside of the real world; they allowed them to go anywhere in the world, and that's what we wanted to bring to the Avenue of the Americas," said Thompson Motta, "so not only is painting the better technique to do this because it adds to depth to wherever you are standing, but it's also a nod to the techniques of these old movie backdrop painters."
The installation will inevitably be used heavily by visitors for social media purposes, but also emphasizes the importance of designing an art experience that can be appreciated as is, in real life. PLAYLAB Partner Jeff Franklin says of the installation "we've always loved to do artwork that people can interact with that's not like a white glove, precious type of thing. Especially for public art, it's not a 'look but don't touch', but instead a 'look but get in it' type of experience."
FANTASY LANDSCAPES launches Monday, July 22nd. Launch day will be accompanied by several "tour guides" helping visitors navigate the spaces, who will be taking Polaroids of visitors in the installations to take home with them. Some pretty cool limited-edition merch will also be able for purchase Monday, July 22nd from 12:00PM to 2:00 PM at the 1177 Sixth Avenue location.
FANTASY LANDSCAPES is located at 1120 Sixth Avenue, 1177 Sixth Avenue, 1221 Sixth Avenue, and 1251 Sixth Avenue and will be installed until October 2019.
Interested to hear more from PLAYLAB? Partner Archie Lee Coates IV will be speaking at the Core77 Conference this October! Learn more here and buy your ticket today.