90ft x 60ft x 13ft (28m x 18m x 4m)
A commission from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the Art Students League of New York's Model to Monument fellowship program for large-scale public art.
My guiding principle was to make it interactive - something that works with the space to enhance the environment. Something that people will appreciate. A unique place to sit by the river and take in the view. How about a giant sundial?
- Damon Hamm, 2016
Installation: May 22, 2019
Most people’s first glimpse of Riverside Park North is from 70 feet above - the entrance on top of Riverbank State Park. Access to such a unique aerial viewpoint was a focal point for the concept - a gigantic sundial made of a steel wave (the ‘gnomon’ in sun-dial speak), surrounded by benches that curve with the shape of the shadow. From 70 feet above, the vision of a clock-face starts to emerge.
With the Hudson river right there, the first thing to come to mind is a giant wave rising up, cresting above 4 ‘rafts’ that bob in its wake below. These ‘rafts’ are seating areas to lounge on, sit or read. They also hold a secret:
4 times a year, at a specific time, the shadow will perfectly align with each of the benches.
How does one arrive at such a design? RESEARCH!
Bringing those two elements together on every solstice and equinox, the shadow will land exactly on the outline of one ‘raft’ when the hour and minute of the day (with daylight savings-time) matches the month and day of the year.
For example, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st, or 12/21.
So at 12:21pm on 12/21, the shadow will align perfectly with the ‘raft’ that is due north.
At each of the specific dates and times of year shown, the shadow of the upright portion of the sculpture will align perfectly with each of the ground forms outlined in green.
Also viewable in video form: https://youtu.be/zuDZzz-8lr8
the nuts and bolts…
The dates and times shift due to our 365 ¼ day solar years, so the dates are calculated from the average over the past 100 years:
Spring Equinox = Mar 20 7:28 UT (2:28am EST)
Summer Solstice = Jun 21 0:44 UT (Jun 20 7:44pm EST)
Autumn Equinox = Sep 22 16:47 UT (11:47am EST)
Winter Solstice = Dec 21 13:53 UT (8:53am EST)
Well that’s magical…
These dates are also the cardinal points for the astrological zodiac, with the sun in zero degrees...
Aries on the Spring Equinox
Cancer on the Summer Solstice
Libra on the Autumn Equinox
Capricorn on the Winter Solstice
The New York Parks Department had decided that the theme this year was "Wave". Each artist then embarked on designing individual expressions and interpretations of what 'wave' means to them - waves of immigration, waving hello, cyclic nature, harnessing the wind, etc.
Halfway through the year the Art Students League Model to Monument program director Greg Wyatt decided to have the artists attempt to merge their 6 separate sculptures into 3 two-person team collaborations. Needless to say, not a trivial ask. In fact, 3 of the 7 artists were unable to meet the challenge and dropped out of the program - a first in M2M history.
My assigned design partner, Jeff Sundheim, had been exploring spiral line gestures, and seeing no way to merge my many previous iterations, my inspiration came from noticing the shadows that one of Jeff's sculptures cast onto the table.
Isolating the shadow effect really brought out some interesting forms.
Note: All images, video, and 3D renderings shown are of my own creation and are my contribution to the collaboration, except where noted.
Knowing that any horizontal shadows would be dependent upon the final upright wave's form, I created the following 'wave' explorations as design inspirations for Jeff to add his spin.