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Polar Rainbow
Photograph: Courtesy of Times Square Arts

You can gaze at this realistic rainbow that reaches across Times Square this month

This augmented reality experience is called "Polar Rainbow."

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

In honor of Pride Month, the Times Square Arts organization is presenting "Polar Rainbow" to all New Yorkers. The public art piece is an augmented reality sculpture of a rainbow created by Latvian-British artist Kristaps Ancāns that will be on display through June 30.

To actually see the rainbow sculpture, you have to download the Polar Rainbow app (which Ancāns helped develop) through a QR code placed on a lightbox in Times Square. You'll then be able to also snap photos alongside the rainbow and send "digital postcards." 

"Inspired by the discovery that rainbows do not exist in the North or South pole, Ancāns' project creates a virtual double rainbow stretching between the two poles along the 74W meridian line—the most populous meridian in the Americas, which happens to cut right through Times Square along 7th Avenue," an official press release says about the work.

Even more specifically, the artist was inspired by the 1989 Baltic Chain of Freedom—a peaceful demonstration during which approximately 2 million people from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined hands and linked arms to form an actual human chain that spanned 430 miles. Similarly, the project calls for solidarity, empathy and awareness.

“I believe that art today has to define new additional tasks for itself to prepare us for a world with new points of reference appearing," Ancāns said in an official statement. "Historically, standing for human rights has emerged from different local contexts. Since then, we have developed new technologies and have created tools of inspiration and support that can globally unite communities. The rainbow uniting both poles reminds us of the challenges that persist and, at the same time, that the arc of temporality can bring lasting change."

"Polar Rainbow" also functions as a kickoff to a slew of Pride-related programs that will take place across Times Square in June. The lineup includes Pride-themed Playbill monoliths at the Broadway Grand Gallery, a Pride celebration in the area from June 24-26 and a disco-themed street party, among other activations.

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