du Monde: The Middle of the World
installation on the Bridge Deck of each of three new, Kennedy
Island Ferries, New York, NY - 2000-06
Concept and design by Werner Klotz and John
Roloff, production and installation by Werner Klotz.
Spirit of America, Kennedy Class Staten Island Ferry - the
bridge deck is the uppermost full-length deck.
Ferry route between Manhattan and Staten Island / route of side
scanning sonar image viewed in Sonar Viewing Portal on each of
the three ships.
Right: Plan of ferry bridge deck showing artwork elements.
project in divided into two main spaces:
Incorporates video of side-scanning sonar of
the NY harbor bottom, latitude and longitude data of Manhattan/Staten
Island ferry terminals, sound recordings and graphics.
Staten Island World Space
modulated blue light and map/data positioning information placing
Staten Island in a global context.
Description 2001, updated 2007 by John Roloff
The two main elements of Le Milieu du Monde: The Middle
of the World, are the Sonar Space and Staten
Island World Space,
both located on the
Bridge Deck of each of the three new ferries. Within the Sonar
is the "Sonar
circular metal and glass housing inspired by nautical instruments.
Viewed within the structure is an animated image of the
passage between Manhattan and Staten Island as recorded by
a side-scanning sonar system of the harbor’s sea floor.
This image would be perceived by the passenger as a daily "mandala" which
can also be viewed by a group of people as a shared experience.
On either side of the portal are reflective highly polished
stainless steel walls etched with the latitude and longitude
of the Manhattan and Staten Island Ferry Terminals, compounding
the social quality and walk-in instrument-like nature of this
transforming experience. The use of side scanning sonar as a visualization system came from the studies and research related to Holocene Terrace and related projects by John Roloff as described in Sea Within the Land: Environmental Bathymetry / Multi-beam/Side-scan Sonar Works/Concepts.
Adjacent to the sonar portal is a large composite image
of video stills of water and light reflection;** audio speakers
are installed above the seats between
the image of the galaxy and the sonar zone. From these speakers
are heard different voices reading one of 101 texts come alive
for 3 to 5 minutes also at the mid-point of the passage. The
readings are selected from literature, log books, and oral
histories recounting extraordinary experiences of seafarers
from all over the world and from different time periods. A ferry
completes the journey back and forth from Manhattan to
approximately 100 times
a week, the system of
playing back the reading insures that a different text
will be spoken, creating a daily "mantra" for
the sonar, sound and water image elements at the other end
of the deck is the Staten Island World Space.
Standing over a floor-mounted compass/instrument,
the viewer sees a map of the world etched on reflective highly polished
stainless steel with the space between Staten Island
and Manhattan as its center and
the locus of the viewer. Staten Island’s location
is prominently indicated in a global context by the
names written on side panels of other cities
that share the same latitude as well as those of the same longitude.
Using a similar temporal structure as the sonar and
elements, a blue light
floods this space from above: faintly at first upon leaving shore, reaching
maximum intensity of blue and spectral refraction from
the etched stainless steel walls
at mid-passage, fading again to off upon approaching the opposite shore.
The commission for the Staten Island Ferry artwork was awarded to Werner Klotz and John Roloff by the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Percent for Art Program in late 2000. Werner Klotz and John Roloff worked as a collaborative design team to conceptualize, design and develop the project from late-2000 to late-2003, with assistance from George C. Sharpe Inc., NY, the New York City Department of Transportation, Marinette Marine Corp., Marinette WI, Dan Dodt, San Francisco, CA, among numerous others. The production, production oversite and installation of the physical elements of the art work was accomplished by Werner Klotz and selected personnel.
image composition of water and light reflections was originally
designed as a Video Wall image for the Saloon deck, one deck below the Bridge deck, and replaces
the original concept
Way as part of the Sonar Space.
Island World Space; Video Wall Studies/Proposal
by the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Percent for Art Program
and the New York City Department of Transportation, New
York, NY 2000-06.