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See the art installation turning the Park Avenue Armory into a mini surveillance state

By
Howard Halle
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Ever gotten the feeling that you’re being watched? Of course you are. Haven’t you noticed the closed-circuit cameras that are just about everywhere in the city (especially in places like Times Square)? But if you need reminding of what’s actually at stake, head over and check out the interactive art installation at the Park Avenue Armory. Using hidden infra-red cameras and drones, it tracks and records your every move around an illuminated grid in the Armory’s darkened, cavernous Drill Hall by projecting images of you on the floor as you go from one spot to the next. 

Photo by James Ewing

The piece, the latest in a series of art spectacles presented at the Armory over the years, is the brainchild of a creative team consisting of the famed Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei and the Swiss starchitect duo of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. It’s titled Hansel and Gretel after the fairy-tale characters who left a trail of breadcrumbs behind them as they went into the forest, the breadcrumbs in this case being the images that visitors leave behind.

Photo by James Ewing

Hansel and Gretel provides all sorts of opportunities to strike a pose under Big Brother’s watchful eyes: You can lay on the floor or make gestures, all of which are captured as ghostly afterimages. You can even flip off the cameras, if you’re so inclined. Hansel and Gretel is up until August 6 and you can find more about hours and admissions here.

Photo by James Ewing

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