Above the ruckus of Times Square, a chic group gathered in the R Lounge at the Renaissance Hotel to watch what was being called a Midnight Moment—minimalist artist Jack Goldstein’s 1978 film The Jump is being telecasted on 15 billboards throughout New York’s busiest junction nightly between 11:57 p.m. and midnight throughout the month of August.
Imagine this, broadcast across Times Square:
Preceding the near-midnight main event, naturally, was a boozy cocktail hour. Armed with free drink tickets, guests drank glasses of cabernet sauvignon and talked about whatever people talk about on Tuesday nights. Couches lined the wall of windows, and mood lighting shone. Elevator versions of hip-hop classics played throughout the night—you haven’t really heard “Forgot About Dre” until you’ve heard it in smooth jazz.
At 11:45 p.m., it was time for remarks and some thank you’s. The evening was put together by the Times Square Advertising Coalition and Times Square Arts in partnership with The Jewish Museum, which is currently showcasing an exhibit on the Goldstein’s work and influence. Claudia Gould, the museum’s director, told the crowd, “It’s a great night to be in New York City. It all comes together right here.”
Moments later, billboards that had just been playing risqué American Eagle ads lit up with The Jump. Large screens above the buildings, and smaller ones down by the street simultaneously played the short film, which portrays a red diver against a black screen, as he jumps and somersaults before dissolving into pixilated fragments. The usual mishmash of Times Square commercialism had suddenly—and briefly—become art.
Looking down at the people in the street, which at midnight still numbered in the thousands, I wondered if they even noticed. If they did, if they happened to pay attention for those three minutes, they would’ve felt something special; a break from the consumerism that drives the city, and a moment for an artist passed. If only Jack Goldstein were there to see it, Gould said wistfully.