PEEPWORLD was the largest, most intricate piece I had done up to that point. Commissioned by a collector from the UK, it took eighteen months to complete.
The concept of the piece is; aside from just having a street scene with the ability to look into the various environments — to give much broader interior views, to provide a sense of what possibly went on in there. Since no people are present, that story is left to be told by the physical detail.
The inspiration for the design came, in part, from a model I had seen of the Paris Opera House at the Musee d'Orsay several years ago. It was a huge model that was 'cut' open to reveal all the interiors of the building. You were able to see the various rooms, stage areas, and chambers. I decided to do something similar, but did not want it to look like an architectural model with cross-sectional views. I came up with a street scene with views into the bar ('Subway Inn'), and down the subway entrance. You can also see into a slightly open window at the fire escape, which looks into a dressing room. The main interior view is into PEEPWORLD, a fictional 'porno palace,' similar to those which existed before Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the neighborhood, and before Times Square was developed into the family-friendly theme park environment it is today.
The sides of the piece have small windows (2 on the left, 1 on the right), which give you the voyeuristic sense of peeping inside.
There were several challenges involved in designing and building PEEPWORLD. The first being the architecture itself. Since you have interior views coming in from three sides, it had to be designed that those views all work together well — which also meant less 'cheating' on the detail. Much of it was visible from more than one side.
The second challenge was the technology. I decided that, as much as possible, I didn't want to use incandescent lighting. I used miniature fluorescents for the general lighting, and mostly LEDs for all else. The lighting array over the main entrance is composed of approximately 300 LEDs, and the whole circular area in the center of it 'chases' in and out. The little red lights above the video booths are programmed to go on-and-off, timed to represent the person in the booth feeding more tokens into the coin box. Both of these features employed the use of microprocessors.
The only area with incandescent lighting is the Dressing Room. I wanted a more 'dreary' atmosphere in that room, and the fluorescents or the LEDs just didn’t look right. There is also some fiber optics used; both around the exterior marquee and the 'PIZZA' sign.
The 'Subway Inn' was the only part of the piece that was replicated almost as it actually exists on the upper eastside of Manhattan. Everything else was, for the most part, fictional.
Eighteen months is a long time to spend on one thing, but it was a great project to work on, and afforded me the opportunity to explore new techniques and technologies.