If you can squeeze it in by Oct. 1, ride over to Chelsea for a quick peek at Tight Spot, a site-specific, outdoor art installation by David Byrne, co-founder of the Talking Heads, artist, filmmaker and author of the book Bicycle Diaries.
The 48- by 25-foot inflatable globe, wedged beneath the High Line, occupies a space in Chelsea recently acquired by the Pace Gallery. Byrne says it is based on the pastel map one associates with childhood: “a wholly unrealistic world, a world of somewhat arbitrary political units, not a planet of clouds, deep blue oceans, beige deserts and swaths of green jungle.” The work seems to embody both nostalgia and a darker hint of a world under pressure.
In keeping with the artist’s penchant for combining the visual with the aural, a thrumming sound emanates from the center of the globe to capture the attention of passersby. Byrne generated the sound with his own voice. “It was the easiest and fastest way of creating what was going on in my head,” he says. “I filtered and processed my voice so that it wasn’t recognizable.”
As engaging as the work is, even more so is watching people who come upon it unexpectedly on a Manhattan block where automotive repair shops bump up against sleek gallery spaces. Surprise, delight, and invariably a cell phone photo — which seems fitting since Byrne’s work is also included in the show Social Media at the Pace Gallery next door.
David Byrne: Tight Spot, 508 West 25th Street near Tenth Avenue (through Oct. 1)