Inspired by the Hudson River, Spencer Finch’s The River That Flows Both Ways documents a 700-minute (11 hours, 40 minutes) journey on the river in a single day. The title is a translation of Muhheakantuck, the Native American name for the Hudson, referring to the river’s natural flow in two directions. Like the rail line that existed on the High Line, the Hudson River was, and still is, an active route for the transportation of goods into Manhattan. The river and the High Line have always been linked in their geography, their function, and their imprints on the industrial legacy of the city.
From a tugboat drifting on Manhattan’s west side and past the High Line, Finch photographed the river’s surface once every minute. The color of each pane of glass was based on a single pixel point in each photograph and arranged chronologically in the tunnel’s existing steel mullions. Time is translated into a grid, reading from left to right and top to bottom, capturing the varied reflective and translucent conditions of the water’s surface. The work, like the river, is experienced differently depending on the light levels and atmospheric conditions of the site. In this narrative orientation, the glass reveals Finch’s impossible quest for the color of water.
Spencer Finch (b. 1972, Connecticut) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Finch’s mixed-media installations, photographs, and drawings investigate the phenomena of color and light in the natural environment, transforming the traditional genre of landscape into abstract grids of color. Recent solo exhibitions include James Cohan Gallery, New York (2013); Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis (2013); Lisson Gallery, Milan (2012); Nordenhake Gallery, Stockholm (2012); the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2011); and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2010). Important commissions and public projects include the Culture Line at Paddington Station, London (2013); the glass façade for the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore (2012); the “Civil House Court Project,” Haarlem, Netherlands; and the Park Avenue Armory, New York (2008), among others.
This installation is presented in partnership with Creative Time, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and is made possible by a generous grant from The Rockefeller Foundation’s New York City Cultural Innovation Fund. This project was made possible, in part, through the generous support of Chelsea Market and in-kind support from Jaroff Design and Mison Concepts, Inc.