Charles Long does not use public sculpture as an opportunity for critiquing mass consumerism. For Mr. Long—whose installation in Madison Square Park, “Pet Sounds,” features blobs of colorful sculptures oozing out onto park benches and picnic tables that look like Play-Doh creations writ large—it’s the opposite. “What led me to the idea for “Pet Sounds,” he says in his piece “500 Words” for Artforum, “was in fact my connection to pop culture.”
The installation, which is a tribute to the seminal Beach Boys album of the same name, was intended to “enchant the park” and “stimulate its community.” And the name isn’t only a tribute in spirit. The sculptures are meant to be touched. Here’s what Mr. Long had to say, in part:
There is a tactile and audible component to Pet Sounds. The skins of the blobs are sensitized so that as one smoothes a hand over the surface, there is an instantaneous response: The entire surface vibrates, producing a range of sounds. It’s fun to see all these hands groping the forms and visitors discovering the acoustic element. I notice a lot of dialogue between visitors, as multiple people can play together on the same form.