A study for “Unmoored” and “Wake,” an augmented-reality project by the artist Mel Chin that will be installed in Times Square. CreditMel Chin
Come next year, the multitude of visitors to Times Square will be able to gape at something looming above them other than just the flashy signs of Broadway. Mel Chin’s first augmented-reality project, “Unmoored,” which is designed to be viewed on site through cellphones and tablets, will present a future vision of Times Square shaped by the rising sea level predicted by climate scientists.
“We’re working on a mass phenomenon, extending from 45th to 47th streets in the air, that can convey the gravity of what we have before us,” said Mr. Chin, a conceptual artist, who will anchor this spectacle with a massive sculpture, “Wake,” in the middle of Times Square. The work, a composite of a whale skeleton and a shipwreck, will feature a 20-foot-tall animatronic figurehead of the 19th-century chanteuse Jenny Lind, who will sigh and raise her head to the heavens. “She will actually wake up,” said Mr. Chin, who has long been committed to raising public awareness in multimedia works dealing with environmental pollution, social justice and xenophobia in the United States.
Residents of Flint, Mich., collecting plastic water bottles for Mr. Chin’s “Flint Fit” project. The plastic will be processed into thread and fabric to create rain gear and swimwear. CreditBen Premeaux
Part of a 40-year survey, “Mel Chin: All Over the Place,” opening at the Queens Museum on April 8 and co-produced by No Longer Empty, “Unmoored” and “Wake” (in partnership with Times Square Arts) are among several new off-site commissions rolling out monthly around the city during the Queens exhibition, which runs through Aug. 12. These include a sound piece to be accessible on the 7 train from Times Square to the museum.
The show will open with a public fashion show at the Unisphere, in the museum’s backyard, of the artist’s new commission of rain-gear and swimwear collection called “Flint Fit.” He is using thousands of empty water bottles that are being collected from Flint, Mich., which is still dealing with poisoned tap water. Mr. Chin is having the bottles processed into thread and fabric in North Carolina. Based on designs by Tracy Reese, known for outfitting Michelle Obama, the recycled materials will then be sewn into the garments at St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, a nonprofit organization in Flint employing people struggling to re-enter the work force.
“We’re creating something that can be regenerative for Flint,” said Mr. Chin, who will design the runway to the Unisphere. “It starts with Flint and then the world.”