The Subtle Knife: Midnight Moment, Times Square – Asia Society Triennial with Times Square Arts
1st – 31st January 2021
Times Square Arts
In The Subtle Knife, Daniel Crooks takes us on a contemplative journey through time and space. Moving slowly down a never-ending train track, the scenery disappears into a series of constantly receding frames, forming a surreal landscape of alternate realms and infinitely expanding possibilities.
As the camera pans backwards on a course that smoothly shifts between abandoned interiors and empty railway lines, an infinite chain of mirrored portals shrink along the tracks in the rear-view. These spectral shapes puncturing the shifting horizon evoke the concept of the ‘subtle knife’ – the blade from author Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series that can tease apart the fabric of space and time, cutting new paths into alternate universes. The work also harkens back to the phantom ride films of the 1890s and early 1900s, in which a camera strapped to the front of a vehicle films the tracks and scenery ahead while the vehicle itself was left unseen. Crooks captured the perfectly constant tracking shots by using a custom-developed motion control system, painstakingly stitched together in post-production to become a seamless journey through a composite world.
The Subtle Knife ushers in the new year by distorting space and time while underlining a sense of passage and transition. Entrancing, slow, and seemingly boundless, January’s Midnight Moment draws us into parallel worlds, challenging our perceptions or reality amidst Times Square — a space of transit and constant motion, whether in the plazas or on the subway tracks below.
The Subtle Knife is presented in partnership with Asia Society on the occasion of their inaugural Asia Society Triennial, a festival of art, ideas, and innovation from October 27, 2020 through June 27, 2021.