A flying, metal, spider-like creature is probably the last thing you’d expect to see displayed in a window near Manhattan's Park Avenue, but walk past Asia Society Museum and that's just what you'll find. Korean artist U-Ram Choe’s piece Unicus–Cavum ad initium hangs from our window display on East 70th Street, to the bewilderment of those who pass by.
If you’ve already seen Custos Cavum (Guardian of the Hole) — the breathing, winged mechanical creature at the Asia Society Museum — Unicus–Cavum ad initium may seem like its flying cousin. And that would make sense, because this kinetic "organism" is actually supposed to be the spawn of Custos Cavum.
Choe has observed that his sculptures cause some viewers to “marvel as if they were seeing a religious icon in a temple or cathedral” and the reactions received by Unicus–Cavum ad initium have been no different. Many heads have turned while passing the display. Others stop and stare, mouths agape. People of all ages are mesmerized by the creature’s fluid motions, which resemble those of a bird.
Recently, we headed to the street with our cameras and asked some people to share their thoughts on this one-of-a-kind piece of robotic art — you can watch the video above. Among some of the more peculiar names people have come up with for it are “Silver Glass Widow” and “Creepy-spider-pretending-to-be-a-butterfly." What would you call it?
Michael McAteer, videographer and producer of the video, wanted to get the conversation started. He dubbed the piece "Mind Shard." "What struck me while filming people talk about their impressions of the piece was the extent to which they seemed to see a reflection of their own mind-state," McAteer said. "The piece was like a small piece of their mind found on a street corner."
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Unicus–Cavum ad initium is part of an ongoing In Focus series in which contemporary artists create new works inspired by Asia Society's permanent collection. Visit the exhibition site to learn more.