I received my experience invitation from Jason Sigal
back in October and had yet to go through with it. Today I decided it was finally time for action, so I took the F to the A out of Brooklyn and arrived blocks away from the World Trade Center PATH station
, the first stop on the journey.
Jason provided a series of audio tracks to accompany different parts of the experience. I was impressed by the production quality and appreciated the minimalistic sound design he used combined with his own voice, giving me information and instructions.
I arrived at the PATH station but it was impossible not to stop for a moment to take in One World Trade Center. Because of its height it was literally impossible to capture the ground and the top of the building in a single frame. Jason's helpful narration assured me I was in the right place, and guided me into the station so that I could catch a PATH train to Exchange Place, in New Jersey just over the Hudson River.
At times Jason included sounds that he himself had recorded in the exact same location, and it was strange to hear recorded sounds that matched the environment I was in, but that did not match temporally. Also, his narration invoked imagery of a friendly futuristic robot, as did the minimal sound design I mentioned earlier.
There was a track meant to be listened to every place along the way, including in the PATH train, and on the escalator exiting the Exchange Place station. Above the escalator there is an installation of neon lights by the artist Stephen Antonakos, which I found rather uninspiring. I appreciated Jason's curation of this exhibit, but I felt that the lights did not do anything for the space; they seemed haphazardly arranged and lacked cohesiveness, mostly relying on the shock value of neon in a public space.
After exiting the PATH station, I was directed to the Katyń Memorial, a statue memorializing Katyń massacre of 1940 in which the Soviets murdered around 22,000 Polish prisoners. There were flowers on the steps of the monument, and I witnessed at least one person cross themselves as they paused to respect the victims.
Looking back over the Hudson River gave me an amazing view of downtown Manhattan. I may have put this experience off for far too long but I was glad that the day I chose was bright and crisp, though cold. It was interesting to compare One World Trade Center to the Empire State Building (seen in the second photo above). The difference in distance makes it appear even smaller than it actually is compared to the newest addition to the city's skyline.
Jason provided me with a ticket for the NY Waterway ferry between Exchange Place and the World Financial Center ferry terminal. He also included music for the ride. I was instructed to look for the Statue of Liberty, which I found directly in the beam of the setting sun. I also looked back at Exchange Place and noted how sparse the skyline looked in comparison to that of Manhattan.
The last stop was a visit to the Irish Hunger Memorial
. This may have been my favorite part of the trip, as it was a very unique architectural experience and something which I had never seen before. It's meant to raise awareness of the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1852 which killed millions due to starvation. The last picture is an example of how unique this place is - you can frame a photo that appears to have been taken somewhere in the hills of Ireland, yet you are standing in the financial center of the world.
This experience was carefully crafted and I thank Jason for taking the time to put it all together. The short trip made an impression that will last much longer than the hour or so it took in reality. I was able to see new things, revisit old things, and all the while be personally guided by precise narration, intriguing insights, and a general feeling of positivity.