Growing up in New York City, I am used to being surrounded by enormous buildings and giant crowds of people. I wake up, go to sleep, and do everything in between hearing police sirens, the roaring of the train, the people chattering away in different languages. The size and positioning of the buildings feels as if the city is cradling, or engulfing me in its art and culture. Almost all the buildings themselves seem to function as a piece of art. As seen on The High Line, some buildings were built to have their own, I would say, personality while also appearing to coexist and be apart of other surrounding buildings. However, I do not necessarily find all giant objects and organisms to be intimidating or superior, it happens that roaches absolutely terrify me. In terms of art, I find larger works can be quite empowering. The thought of Michelangelo being able to complete such a truly breathtaking piece such as the Statue of David, as mentioned in the article, inspires me to do my best in anything I do and work hard doing the things I love.
We know that size is subjective. Height is a source of insecurity or pride for many (but I will not get into my height). A lot of art that encompasses you are comforting; it is like being inside your mother’s womb. You are cradled. You are wrapped in warmth until your heart spills love. An important caveat is that not all art is lovely because some art can cause fear, distress, and other unkind emotions. In that case, of course, it is not comforting. Maybe I would not like to be in that space. I do see a merit in being inside spaces that make you uncomfortable. Anytime an art is bigger than me, I marvel at it automatically. Just the size itself amazes me. I remember that I saw a picture of the black and white American flag at the Brooklyn Museum. Although Ive seen the flag many times, the sheer size of the picture captured my attention and held it for a while. So, I couldn’t stop looking at it for a some minutes.
As a lot of the honors students might know, I am obsessed with animes. So let’s talk about size in animes. My most favorite anime is One Piece. The protagonist of that anime is Luffy, who is a rather pale looking guy of average height, but with enormous strength such that he can crush people twice his size. And watching One Piece and other such animes have taught me that size really doesn’t matter. It’s your will power and how much dedication and heart you put into what you are doing, that matters.
Also, big and small is a matter of perspective. Imagine you were a giant and were looking at humans. Of course, those humans would seem puny little beings to you. But now think about yourself as a human seeing a giant. I think most of us would be overwhelmed by the sheer size of that giant. However, just because the giant is enormous doesn’t necessarily make him the superior being. Someone like Luffy would be enchanted by the giant’s size and would ask the giant to join his crew (which he actually did in the anime).
This makes me reflect on whether size really matters. I think about the anime, but then an anime is a fantasy. And I am in reality. However, I feel like it’s all in our minds. We don’t really know how big is big. So, why feel overwhelmed by the size of something. Just become one with it and approach it in a way that will make size worthless. For example, even though the skyscrapers in NYC are huge in comparison to human beings, at their very core they are still human creations. So, for them, no matter how puny humans are, we are still their creators. Perspective really matters in shaping things and in deciding whether you want to let it consume you, or be the one in command.
Different places can create various perspectives on the size of the world around you. As in my case, I came from a small town in Ukraine, surrounded by miles of rural areas. Many of the buildings were not more than five stories and everything was within walking distance.
As I got older and taller, being that I am above average height today, the town seemed to get smaller and smaller; I could run and bike further and faster across it. Long strolls turned into short rides or walks along the few local streets.
However, after coming to New York, and seeing the millions of people (almost half of my country’s population) living in one city changed my perspective on the size of the places where you live. Dwarfed by the glorious skyscrapers and other architecture, admired as art, really showed me how big this world is, and how many places today are no longer built towards the thousands, but rather the millions. Is it better this way? Perhaps, sometimes I do like the anonymity among the millions of people around me in some cases and at the same time it can be a factor bringing individuals down. All in all, it is can be both a great thing as well as not.
How do I feel about being “consumed” by size? Well I find it rather pleasant, to be in something bigger than myself and enjoy up close what it could possibly mean. I feel like when you can be so up close to something, you can really see the details and with details you can possibly understand what the artist was trying to convey. Or maybe the opposite could be said, sometimes things need to be sized down or take a step back from it to realize what it is truly trying to show. At the High Line it felt as though the buildings and artworks were looking down at me or up or sometimes directly at me. It all truly depended on where exactly the specific object was, somethings were on the floor some were on top of skyscrapers or somewhere directly in front of my face. For example, the sculpture of a lion head with wings behind it felt as though it were looking directly at me.
Once again, G and I had similar ideas when approaching this question, as the first thing I thought of when the question of size came up was why so many girls I know love tall guys. As the article mentioned, changing an object’s size can also change its meaning to highlight certain features. This helps the artist make a more prominent and stronger statement about what they are trying to portray.
This made me think to myself: is that why girls love tall guys? Do they same to make more of a statement and seem more confident and stronger to girls by simply being tall? Though this may be so, I also thought of something else when looking at the pictures of the article. Though this doesn’t necessarily apply to people because we are all similar in size when we are compared to the smallest of small and the tallest of the tall, I did realize that when making an object bigger than normal, it shows imperfections in the art much more easily, giving artists a much smaller margin of error.
That is why I can say confidently that thank God I’m small! Otherwise, if I were the size of some of these buildings along the High Line, my pimples would be 10 feet tall, my nose would weigh my whole head down, and my ears would be so big that I would have the ability to fly (that last one actually sounds pretty cool)! Though I may have grown over a foot since freshman year of high school, I still am very, very small when comparing myself to the rest of the world.
For a majority of my life, I was always the tall girl. I had a bunch a nicknames relating to my height; the most popular one was given to my friend—who was almost my same height—and I and we were called “The Twin Towers.” I never got offended by any of these names because I saw it as a compliment; it made me feel dominant especially when I would play different sports with the guys. However, I have never taken the time to think of myself in relation to the enormous structures that surround me. After visiting the High Line and thinking about the size of the buildings, I realized that at the end of the day I am small. We are all small in comparison to these amazing sights, no matter what your size or role is in the world. This may seem like a depressing statement; however, it is the exact opposite. These oversized artworks give us something that everyone can connect to. Although it may appear that the buildings are consuming us on our everyday walks through the city, on the High Line we were able to look through the buildings while still appreciating their great stature.
“The bigger the better” is a belief valued by countless Americans. The United States is well known for big portions; from oversized hamburgers to towering skyscrapers, we just can’t get enough. The article “Oversized Art- Is Bigger Really Better” by Natalie P. discusses the human perception of large-scale art. Ancient Greece and Rome created statues and sculptures of mythical beings and heroes larger than humans to signify their superiority. Being in the presence of these larger than life sculptures often spurred inspiration, amazement, and appreciation in the audience. Similarly, during our trip to the high line, I experienced how my perception changed of the buildings once we were above ground. I felt far more superior as I walked across the high line than I was on the ground at the feet of the buildings. The city no longer consumed me in its shadows, instead, I was able to appreciate the unique structure of the city without feeling intimidated.
Reading the article “Oversized Art – Is Bigger Really Better” by Natalie P. made me wonder: could New York City be seen as a piece of oversized art? Like a piece of oversized installation artwork, New York immerses people in an alternate world like nowhere else in the country.
New York is so crowded and overwhelming that it is hard to appreciate its beauty in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the street. Walking on the High Line this Friday, elevated above the loud and congested sidewalk, allowed me to see New York in a different way.
From the High Line, New York City looked like a living mosaic. The ever-changing landscape of New York was put on display. Looking at the view from the High Line convinced me that New York itself is a work of art.
During our trip to the High Line, we got to experience our surroundings differently than we normally do. Everything seemed a bit more comparable to our size as we were walking along. In our normal lives we usually come across buildings of these sizes and don’t pay much attention to them because they’re too big for us to fathom. However, on the trip the buildings seemed less enormous relative to us. This made it possible for us to get a fuller view and actually understand what was around us. I actually think that on ground level we’re more consumed by the size because it feels a lot bigger than while we were elevated. I feel like when we’re higher up it feels more natural in a way because it feels like everything is more related and connected even though in reality this is actually a less natural experience. I do agree that it does feel like the artwork is actually viewing us while we’re on the high line but I feel less consumed than when on the ground.