This afternoon above the steets of Manhattan, I witnessed a light aircraft ‘write’ a number of short phrases in the sky. Today was a particularly warm and cloudless day so the streets and parks were thronged with people, most of whom gazed skyward as the apparently unrelated phrases painted their way slowly and somewhat errily above Manhattan’s west side.
Cue a Twitter frenzy. What did these prases mean? Who was behind them? And why, of all the phrases was ‘LAST CHANCE’ one of them? Unsurprisingly, every phrase instantly warranted its own hashtag, as did ‘skywriting’ of course.
Reactions varied from the near hysterical (one Tweet, from a man in Brooklyn said he and his family had begun packing their car to flee the city) to the downright dismissive. Either way, a conversation was suddenly under way, and on a darned large scale. The consensus was that this was clearly a marketing stunt and we would discover the meaning in due course.
Turns out, the messages were not marketing related at all (at least not unless you’re really cynical). No, the messages were in fact, public art. Now I’m no art critic but for the 30 minutes or so it took to complete and subsequently lose the artwork on the wind, I was as transfixed as much of New York City. Powerful stuff. Stuff which was apparently first performed in 1919.