Putting you in the spotlight with a stranger, this installation in New York City is a perhaps-paradoxical commentary on both connection and isolation in urban environments.
Located at 7th Avenue and Carmine Street in Manhattan, Table for Two by Parisian native Shani Ha was designed to separate the participants with a window, yet by its placement and proximity makes simultaneously for intimately-shared moments.
Vicky Gan describes it as “part sculpture, part performance art, it challenges those who sit down to look up from their smartphones and into the eyes of a friend, a stranger, or their own reflections in the glass. A self-conscious homage to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, the work realizes the age-old concept of the big, crowded city as a lonely, isolating place.”
Like any good piece of interactive art, the stories about its usage are what show it works – deaf people communicating in sign language across the glass in one case or a couple talking to each other (like in prison) on phones in another.
Technology, claims the artist, is responsible “making us more self-centered because [it gives] us the power to access only the people we decide to access,” whereas the intention in this piece is “to break the bridge between the outside and the inside, and allow a new form of interaction between people.”