Oculus
1999

The World Trade Center/Park Place/Chambers Street Station, Lower Manhattan, New York, NY

Commissioned by:
The Arts for Transit Program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Dimensions:
80 x 1200’ overall (18 x 198 m)

Materials:
Stone, glass and gold mosaic


Elements:
Eyes: 300 mosaic eyes (each measuring ± 8.5” x 12.75”) created in stone and glass tessera; these mosaic eyes are inset on the white tile in the station at a height averaging between five and six ‘, depending on location. They are dispersed throughout the station so as to encompass the whole.
Floors: Elliptical floor of stone and glass mosaic, 38‘ 9“ x 20‘ 8 (± 628.5 square‘)


Site Description:
The World Trade Center/Park Place/Chambers Street Subway Station: an extensive underground complex of interwoven corridors with more than ten access points to the street above.


Project Description:

Oculus is a constellation of stone and glass mosaics in the underground labyrinth of interconnected subway stations of lower Manhattan. Over three hundred mosaic eyes, drawn from a photographic study of more than twelve hundred young New Yorkers, are set into the white tile walls of the World Trade Center/Park Place/Chamber Street Stations. The work’s centerpiece is a large exquisitely detailed, elliptical glass and stone mosaic floor (38’8” x 20’8”) at the heart of the Park Place Station. The continents of the earth, interwoven with the City of New York amidst an ultramarine pool, surround a large eye in the middle of the mosaic. The mosaic is at once a vision of the world, a reflecting pool of water and a representation New York City in its proper geographical orientation.

The work’s detailed renderings of the eye – the most telling, fragile and vulnerable human feature – offer a profound sense of intimacy within a public place. Together, the images create a sense of unity and flow: animating, orienting and humanizing the station. Oculus invites a dialogue between the site and those who move through it.




The former World Trade Center Station is situated at the northeast corner of the site. The station was flooded and closed to the public following the September 11, 2001 attack. The site was damaged but not destroyed, and it reopened eight months later with the work mostly intact. Oculus was recognized as “an unexpected monument” by the Wall Street Journal on September 11, 2003.

Oculus was realized in collaboration with the Roman mosaicist, Rinaldo Piras, Sectile.

     


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 


 


 


 

 

                       


             


                   
 
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