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The Passage 1999

by Kristin Jones & Andrew Ginzel, 1956, 1954

Jones/Ginzel installed the Passage, part of the larger installation the Metronome, in 1999. The Passage displays both immediate military time and a countdown until midnight (to be read backwards from the right side) in the form of a digital analog clock. However, many New Yorkers are confused as to what the numbers represent, offering a wide variety of explanations when asked about their meaning. Some more humorous explanations have included the number of annual tobacco deaths, acres of rainforest destroyed, and even the digits of pi. Many contemporary art critics have scorned the installation; Metronome has been called “the most unloved piece of public art in the city,” “a grotesque modern nightmare,” and a place “where the death of aesthetics can be contemplated.”

In 2005, the numbers were reconfigured to count down to the date when the International Olympic Committee would announce which city would host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Ultimately, New York lost its bid to London, so the Passage resumed displaying regular time again.


1999 Passage and Metronome installed at Union Square South
2005 Reconfigured to count down until the International Olympic Committee announced the site of the 2012 Olympics
2011 Clock updated to correct timing

Reference Links

wiki Metronome (public artwork)
wiki Jones/Ginzel
article In Union Square, 15 Numbers Add Up, Once Again, To Time
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