Writing for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums


Max Neuhaus, Times Square, 1977 – 1992, 2002 – present [reinstated by MTA Arts for Transit and Dia maintained by Dia]
La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, Dream House, 1969 [Heiner Friedrich Gallery], 1971 [Metropolitan Museum of Art], 1972 [Document 5], 1979 – 1985 [6 Harrison St. NYC commissioned by Dia], 1993 – present [275 Church St. NYC commissioned by MELA Foundation]

The materiality of sound is explored in Times Square by Max Neuhaus and Dream House by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. The first is a public sound installation, and the second is a private sound installation. Times Square is endless and constantly in flux with the environment that it is a part of—Times Square in New York City. Covertly installed underground and out of sight, an apparatus (now a computer) continuously pumps sound into the empty space of a subway ventilation shaft that can be heard, while standing on the street-level grate.

Times Square is already an over-stimulating bombardment of the senses, yet Neuhaus’ work is able to add to the ceaseless flow of sound in a way that centers you as opposed to pulling you in every direction. Physically moving around on top of the subway grate allows the listener to actively participate and control how they hear the sounds. Times Square effectively engages interaction of sound with time in a way that is truly durational and each person who interacts with this work has a unique experience of it. The same is true of Dream House, except it is achieved in a different way. This seemingly domestic apartment space was taken over by Young and Zazeela, the minimalist composer/sound artist and visual artist, with the intention of setting up a long-term sound and light installation. A sine-wave droning sound plays in the space that is carefully lit.

Entering the space, one is compelled to slowly walk through and explore the apartment which is empty of most domestic items. Instead there are a few hanging sculptures that slowly spin. After surveying the space, one joins those already sitting or laying on the floor. The experience of moving through the space changes the way in which you hear and see the work. It is an environment that centers you and encourages contemplation of the self in relation to the controlled environment. The power of this work is also similar to the Times Square work: the level of agency the viewer has in changing and interacting with materiality of sound and the experience of the senses.