For those who have ever wanted to witness an artistic, simulated sunrise at sunset (or just before the stroke of midnight), Times Square, London’s Piccadilly Circus, K-Pop Square in Seoul, and Tokyo’s Shinjuku district are the places to be throughout the month of May.
In celebration of spring, Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long, a 2020 animated public artwork from celebrated British artist David Hockney, made on his iPad in Normandy, France, will grace several of the world’s largest and most prominently positioned digital billboards and video screens in the aforementioned urban hubs. Most of them have been remained eerily empty during the coronavirus pandemic due to mandated local lockdowns and a steep decline in global tourism. As a semblance of “normal” activity resumes in these four iconic and usually pedestrian-packed spaces, the public will be greeted by a majestic digital sunrise, Hockney-style, on a nightly basis.
Meant to spread a bit of (literal) sunny optimism across the world, the work was commissioned by CIRCA, a London-based platform dedicated to activating public spaces with digital art. In Times Square, Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long will be presented in partnership with Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, and its Midnight Moment program in which typical advertisements are swapped out for digital art across over 70 electronic billboards throughout the Crossroads of the World. Midnight Moment is the largest, longest-running digital art exhibition in the world.
“We’re proud to be a part of this international collaboration featuring one of the world’s most renowned living artists advocating for hope and new horizons amidst the incredible uncertainty we face as a global society,” said Jean Cooney, director of Times Square Arts, in a joint news release issued by the organization and CIRCA. “This partnership across four countries marks the most expansive collaboration to date in Times Square’s Midnight Moment program’s nine-year history.”
The launch of Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long coincides with both the release of a new book by Hockney, Spring Cannot Be Cancelled, and the opening of a new Hockney exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts titled The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020. It opens on May 23, just days after the Academy official reopens to the public, and is on view through September 26, 2021.
“What does the world look like? We have to take time to see its beauty. That’s what I hope my work will encourage people to do when they see it on the large screens,” said Hockney, who first began experimenting with iPad-based drawings in 2009. In a statement, project curator and CIRCA artistic director Josef O’Connor referred to 83-year-old Hockney as a “master in exploring the boundaries of new media.”
Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long can be viewed at the following aforementioned locations at the following times every evening in May:
- London: Piccadilly Lights, Europe’s largest screen at Piccadilly Circus at 20:21 BST
- New York: Times Square across 70+ electronic billboards, at 23:57 EST (11:57 p.m. EST)
- Seoul: Coex K-POP Square LED screen at 20:21 KST
- Tokyo: Yunika Vision, Shinjuku at 09:00 JST
Additionally, Hockney’s digital sunset can be viewed each and every evening on the CIRCA.ART website at 20:21 BST (3:21 p.m. EST).
A limited-edition lithographic printed poster by Hockney is also available to buy for £100 ($139.44) via CIRCA until 31 through the end of May, with 70 percent of proceeds supporting #CIRCAECONOMY, a cash grant-based initiative geared to help cultural institutions and the creative community regain their respective footings following the pandemic.