Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Waterfall at Brooklyn Heights

I first saw the Olafur Elliasson's Waterfalls in action from the FDR Drive as my son and I were driving through Manhattan in early June. It was before the official starting date so I guess it was being tested. I saw it again while I was in motion, travelling upstate and then back again. Until today, I realized that I had always only seen it on the go. After today, I realized that seeing it in motion was kind of like seeing it on television. It was a technologically-mediated experience. Impressive but not quite real.

Today was the first day that I was able to see the Waterfalls first hand. I had seen Elliasson's work at the Museum of Modern Art, but despite all of the media coverage, I hadn't yet formed a sense of what The Waterfalls are really about. So this afternoon, I left my office to take a brief hike. A very refreshing breeze was blowing down Remsen Street, the first day in a while where the sunlight and humidity felt tolerable, and you could enjoy summer again.

There is no doubt there are many ways to see The Waterfalls. There are 8 in all. The view from Manhattan of the waterfall pouring down under the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side is certainly somewhat surreal, forcing you to see the Bridge in a completely different way.

But the view on foot of the Waterfall at the waterfront, on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade at Remsen Street, is dramatic and more.

As you reach the end of Remsen Street, where it loops around to the Promenade, you can see the formidable, dramatic superstructure of the waterfall and you get a meta-architectural view since the water isn't pouring at you, it is pouring away from you. The day I visited, you could feel the breeze and a little of the resulting falls' mist as it cascaded down into the bay and was blown back over the promenade.

There is certainly something techno and post-modern about these waterfalls, and, just as we read about the anticipated collapse of another huge ice shelf in Antarctica, something sad, beautiful and almost powerfully primitive as humankind strives to create simulacrums of the same natural world that we are pushing off the page.

Through Monday October 13th
7am to 10pm (except Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am to 10pm)
They will be lit up at night.

For locations of all of The Waterfalls and more information see here:

http://www.nyfalls.com/nycwaterfalls.html#When

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