Hollywood is chasing New York, and New Yorkers are starting to wonder if they live in the place that is being filmed. There are film trailers in Central Park, trailers in the subway, trailers in Brooklyn. Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke smooch in Tompkins Square Park (don't worry Uma, it's just a movie); Paltrow dances on banquettes at Jet Lounge; and Julia Roberts hurls her bra to the wind at Hogs 'n' Heifers.
First New Yorkers got television (virtual life). Then the internet (virtual knowledge). Then the cybercafes (virtual dating). All of this virtuality was fine as long as some tempering reality was left. But sometime during the last year a corner was turned.
Cyber-video exhibits keep opening all over town. At the Guggenheim, "Mediascape" sucked in passersby for months, with its vertiginous installation of white walls, flickering screens of light, and taunting disembodied sounds. One room projected a loop of the artist Bruce Nauman shaking his head back and forth for about half an hour, while chattering the inane monosyllable "Brrrr". If a child did it for a minute, you'd smack him. Uptown at Lincoln Center, another exercise in aural and visual torture pulled in victims to the "Brain Opera," where visitors stumbled through an "interactive" obstacle course of computerized gadgets producing a hideous, random symphony. The most dangerous encroachment, though, occurred at the Franklin Furnace in Soho, where humans were bodysnatched and sound-bited for virtual art's sake - a multimedia installation called "Voyeur's Delight". It was not long before the crowd collectively fled the installation and sought safety on the street outside. Two hundred strangers spilled out on to the dark, cobblestones, staring at each other in the blaze of light that leaked out of the museum door and, feeling reluctant to go, lingered, talking and flirting, in a way that wasn't that virtual at all.Reuse content