A tragicomic film plays across 80 billboards in Times Square every night this month

It pokes fun at office life as we know it.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan
Senior National News Editor
Times Square
Photograph: Courtesy of Times Square Arts

Talk about making use of the infamous Times Square electronic billboards: every night this month from 11:57pm through midnight, passerby will be treated to a tragicomic film played across 80 billboards.

Part of the Times Square Arts' Midnight Moments series—the longest-running digital art exhibit in the world—the project is called "Building Things" and it is the brainchild of John Wood and Paul Harrison, the British duo of artists who go by Wood & Harrison. Bowery destination Cristin Tierney Gallery co-presents the project.

For three minutes nightly, the massive screens will showcase a fictitious office building as seen through a descending camera that will offer "glimpses into room after room where various scenes unfold," reads an official press release about the work. Expect showcased details to alternate between the mundane (clocks! Desks! Fluorescent lights! Filing cabinets!) and the more absurd (paper airplanes! Balloons!). 

A clear commentary on office life, the production seeks to "poke fun at the conventions of the office space and the routines of the workday, as the heightened choreography distills the everyday and parodies office culture." 

Given how COVID-19 has disrupted our relationship to the 9-to-5 workday, Wood & Harrison's work clearly has added resonance. 

"What are so many of us obsessively discussing in the pandemic era? Going back to the office," says the gallery's own Tierney in a statement. "Wood and Harrison, with a mix of humor and pathos, ask their audience a follow-up question: what will you do when you get there?"

Previous outstanding Midnight Moment projects include "Talking Hands — Watch My Nails Don't Watch Me," which featured tactile vignettes reminiscent of pop music videos, and "Silent Spikes," a re-imagining of the artist Kenneth Tam's Asian American identity through performance and movement.

Once again, New York proves that, when it comes to public displays of art, the city reigns supreme.

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