About This Project:
The Seven Deadly Sins of Times Square seeks to tie together, assemble, and present the rich historical dangers, pitfalls, and glories of Times Square. It attempts to be part regional travel guide, part map, part history lesson, part morbid fascination. All of the information highlighted in the project is all publicly accessible and findable online (all links are included), and the code was built as open source, so that it can be utilized by others. You are invited to explore this map, and discover the layered history hidden beneath the modern veneer. Since launching the project as a public art piece, I spoke with many people, some of whom had questions about where the project came from. Here are a few of the common ones:
Remind me: what are the Seven Deadly Sins again? Is this a religious project?
Hover over the icons on the map, and a definition for the corresponding sin pops up. Click on the icon, and you'll find a view that shows all of the map points that relate to that sin. The concepts of The Seven Deadly Sins has developed and morphed over the centuries from Biblical references, and have entered the popular culture over the centuries through art and entertainment, from Dante's The Divine Comedy, Hieronymus Bosch's The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Seven Deadly Sins, to the American film Se7en.
This project is not a religious study, nor is it meant to condemn, judge, or condone any of the activities referenced in the map.
Why did you choose to relate Times Square with The Seven Deadly Sins?
I initially imagined this project as highlighting historical oddities and cool found maps. What I discovered was that while some historical information is available online, probably 95% of it is not: it is still trapped in books, newspapers, collections of maps which have not (yet) been digitized. Instead of dealing with lengthy transcription from print sources, and scanning and tagging hundreds of points on old maps, I decided to assemble this map from easily found source materials online that already existed as digital artifacts. While there is less "older" historical data available online, I've included the interesting stories I did find (the oldest reference is from 1870!), and there is plenty of current and more recent historical information available. As Times Square began to take shape to me as a den of vice and depravity (an idea that very much contrasts with the Guiliani sanitized vision that teems with tourists), I wanted to categorize these stories, and the Seven Deadly Sins seemed a perfect structure within which to present my findings.
Not all of these fall within the parameters of Times Square proper.
True. The Times Square Alliance defines the Times Square District as West 40th St to West 53rd St between 6th and 8th Aves, as well as Restaurant Row (46th St between 8th and 9th Ave). These boundaries are great for mapmakers, historians, and real estate agents, but for my purposes, I was a bit looser with my parameters. New York City is relational, and there was much to be gained by including information from some of the surrounding areas, to give a broad contextual picture of the types of activities and establishments that fill in these fascinating stories of Times Square.
How did you plot points that are "hidden" establishments, or non-specified locations?
When locations were not specified, non-confirmable, or "hidden", I chose a location within the Times Square District at random. My aim is not to out illegal or illicit clubs, parties, or gatherings, but rather to bring to the forefront that fact that these hidden activities are going on behind closed doors - the specific location is less important. All of this information is freely and easily found online, if you'd like to know more, do your homework :)
I have questions/suggestions/complaints/praise:
I'd love to hear from you. Email me at me AT karenschoellkopf DOT com.
Credit Where Credit Is Due:
Concept, Research, and Direction: Karen Schoellkopf
Site Development: Patrick Filler
Poster and Icon Design: Kim Ku
A limited launch of the project shown as a public art piece as part of The Work Office, in Times Square, October 2-8, 2011. The Work Office (TWO) is supported by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, which is made possible by the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The full launch (which is what you're currently looking at) went live at the end of October 2011.
About The Artist:
Karen Schoellkopf is an artist who works in many mediums, including photography, writing, and site specific installations. Previous projects have included a book project about catcalling and how men and women interact in the streets, a series of abstract light photographs, a hand bound book of prose, and a full gallery installation of red and yellow tape addressing the idea of home. A recurring thread she addresses through various media is in exploring that which is hidden, or unsaid, and ways of approaching these unspoken topics. She has an MFA in Photography from SVA, and you can find her full website at http://karenschoellkopf.com/