Alan Wolfson’s Canal Street Cross-Section, a miniature depiction of the New York street and subway station, will be on display this summer as part of the forthcoming group exhibition, Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities, at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, starting 7 June.
Wolfson explains that he “wanted to build a piece that resembled a core sample of a city street. As though you took a street, dug it up, and lifted it straight off the earth.”
The resulting urban core sample has the look of a toy oven or vending machine—as if, in the latter case, we could someday just a few quarters into a streetside machine and walk away holding complete miniature rooms, intact down to their ads and posters, extruded from some kind of self-replicating master-model.
“The problem,” as he explains it, “was to make all that architecture work together and make sense visually. I was able to do that by having windows on the sides of the piece to accommodate the cross views. I gave the subway platform a sense of depth by using a carefully placed mirror at the far end. As with almost all of my projects, the sight lines were critical.” The piece, we might say, required a kind of Piranesian optical correction so that all its cross-angles and counterviews could be spatially comprehensible.
You can see many, many more photographs of Canal Street Cross-Section over on Wolfson’s website, as well as dozens of other, often quite incredible “miniature urban sculptures,” as the artist describes them.