“New Public Bodies” in The Journal of Interior Design_spring 21

image by Ryan Swallow (spring 2019)

Special Issue: “Thinking the Body-Inside” edited by Ronn Daniel & Lynn Chalmers

Public spaces do not exist without the presence of bodies. Mediation repositions bodies in space in relation to one another. Existing scholarship has focused on these effects in spaces of civic action, but everyday publics are less understood. This analysis of two recently completed public interiors at Hudson Yards in New York City examines the interplay of spaces, bodies and images and the impact to the public space produced. Snarkpark (“a new age retail environment”) and Vessel (“a new public landmark”) were popular destinations in Hudson Yards, as documented by their Instagram feeds. A visit to either project involved the co-presence of strangers (a condition sociologist Lyn Lofland refers to as the public realm) but in their role as back-drops what resulted was primarily a disembodied, mediated communality. Instagram posts consisted primarily of photographs taken by visitors, selfies minimizing the presence of other visitors. These images posted to social media do not merely form an alternative to physical public space but transform it as well.

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