Time in a Constant Place

There is really a beautiful relationship of factors at the Times Square red bleacher steps that I found when studying the space firsthand. Of course, as I was expecting, and set out to find, there is a relationship of people to people, as the different cultures of the world are mixing and integrating while simultaneously appreciating and experiencing the one sight and view of the square. Then there is the interaction of those who are not on the steps and those who are—that is, something very relevant to time I found. The people admiring the square from the steps do not just go up and take a picture and leave—some do, but the majority of people linger. They are taking 5, 10, or even more selfies and variations of family photos, and they are just standing and chatting. This is especially true for those at the top of the stairs, for whatever reason.

Just standing on the staircase with these tourists and admirers, I noticed the contrast of time; everything in Times Square is moving around and there is no constant tourist who you can really identify in the crowd. Being at the top of the stairs removes you from that motion and the crowd for a moment. Even right below the staircase, there is a constant push and urgent moving of the TKTS  booth line, which really was the purpose of the stairs being built in the first place. There is a remarkable feeling that I certainly never consciously thought about until standing there on the stairs and observing how others were interacting with the stairs. It really speaks true to what Brian Massumi said in “The Autonomy of Affect”:

“They are tendencies—in other words, fastnesses opening directly onto a future, but with no present to speak of. For the present is lost with the missing half second, passing too quickly to be perceived, too quickly, actually, to have happened. This requires a reworking of how we think about the body. Something that happens too quickly to have happened, actually, is virtual (28).”

Constant Motion

It was a new experience for me to go to Times Square to study the people in this condenses staircase rather than have a mission or goal to site-see. I had a different affect thrust upon me, but I can’t explain what it is, only that I felt, in that half-second delay, a different experience and a feeling from the people around me, from the air, from the studies. I think this will be an interesting journey for me—I’m already beginning to change my opinions on the feel of Times Square.

Finally, I noticed one more interesting relationships within the landscape of the stairs. What’s below the stairs—that is, the purpose of the stairs being built—and what is happening above with all the site-seers. Below, there are pipes and tubes and numbers, as well as the inside portion of the TKTS booth. The pipes are the structural machine aspect and seems all too relevant to “Fragment on Machines”, the short film by Emma Charles. There is a flow and a controlled environment in the very uncontrolled Times Square. What is constant in a world like that? The machines functioning, the TKTS booth stations with millions of people walking through, and if you stand there long enough like I did, you see the ambassadors and the TKTS line workers using the same phrases to millions of different people—pushing them to move forward in the line, to see Chicago, or to bring their family to Wicked. It’s a fine-tuned machine, but there’s nothing constant in the types of people walking through day to day.

-Emily Ho


~ by emilylho on October 4, 2015.

3 Responses to “Time in a Constant Place”

  1. I really liked how you focused on movement in an environment that is so “stable”. The TKTS booth doesn’t move, nor do the stairs but all of the people that pass around them do. It might be interesting to interview some of these people that pass by- to see what exactly their relationship to the space is. Maybe in doing so you’ll formulate a deeper analysis of what the space is, rather than what the space looks/feels like.

  2. I like the emphasis on the TKTS booth and the fixed/same movements of the employees, since for many (myself included) the Times Square Stairs are really just another dazzling fixture of that area, with no context really, just another landmark in the landmark of landmarks. You placing a specificity in the middle of Times Square is important because it really is a huge generator of affect, and I think isolating things that stick out from that is crucial. I also like the POV from the top of the stairs, because it does afford a similarly important distance in perspective. I do think you’ll find out more things the more you go to Times Square, more overlaps and patterns, since as of right now you say “there’s nothing constant in the types of people walking through day to day”. Maybe try going consistently at the same time of day? Try again to isolate patterns and etc. Anywho I’m excited to see what more you find out.

  3. I really liked you explanation of the ‘contrast of time’ in your post. I also liked how you photo of choice complemented that idea!

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