The concept of peace and quiet, while living in any one of the five New York boroughs, can be pretty short-lived. That is, until you stumble on stillspotting, the Guggenheim Museums’ two-year multidisciplinary project that takes their Architecture and Urban Studies programming out into the streets and transforms them into places to sit, listen and watch. Last Saturday I found myself travelling to Staten Island to experience one of their latest installations, Telettrofono. Created by sound artist Justin Bennett and poet Matthea Harvey, the audio walking tour braided history with fantasy around the waterfront and residential areas of Staten Island.
I stepped into the temporary headquarters in the St. George ferry terminal ready to be inspired. Greeted with smiles, the volunteers in blue stillspotting shirts got us all set up; I gave them my ID, they gave me headphones and an iPod. Shirley, she looked in charge, handed me a map and said with a smile, “Maybe you’ll see a mermaid.”
Exiting out to the waterfront park I looked at my friend, we nodded the go-ahead, and pressed play, beginning our journey back to 1860. Voices came on through the headphones, instructing us to turn off all 21st century gadgets (you know who you are), and to follow the path closest to the water. Then the voices stopped and the sounds came in: a turning radio knob, static and water, lapping at my ears like gentle waves. It was a bright, hot day and I moved slowly, taking in my surroundings, both real and imagined.
Read the entire piece, originally published on Untapped Cities.