Times’ Lobby Artwork ‘Explodes’ Daily News

“We capture the push and pull of the news on a daily basis, and then we explode it.” That’s media artist Ben Rubin describing his artwork in the New York Times building’s lobby. Mr. Rubin and statistian Mark Hansen have been working on the project, called Moveable Type, since 2003. They created a customized computer program that pulls short sentences and phrases from the newspaper’s databases (including Times blogs, reader comments and e-mail system) and projects them onto a grid of screens.

According to the press release, “[o]ver the course of the day, Moveable Type—as its name suggests—cycles through these different scenes, such as exhibiting questions from the day’s paper (“How dirty did the tricks get?” “What is her stand on Social Security?”); personalizing the news by contrasting quotations that begin with “you” and “I” (“I have discovered that human beings say one thing and do another thing.” “You just can’t throw grease away!”); or retelling the news through its statistics (“20-pound turkey,” “51-yard run to the Rutgers 20-yard line,” “26,000 soldiers due to begin arriving in Darfur”).”

David A. Thurm, the chief information officer of The New York Times Company explained that the media giant wanted to create a “dynamic portrait” of the company. “We knew there was an opportunity to do something special with our lobby artwork,” said Mr. Thurm. “What Ben and Mark have created is unique to the Times Company and truly demonstrates how our readers and Web site users access news and information.”

Mr. Hansen added “we take the pieces of information part, and then put them back together to create and reveal hidden aspects of the newspaper. The piece plays with language, how stories about the news are told, and our
memories of recent and distant events.”

Times’ Lobby Artwork ‘Explodes’ Daily News