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The Secret Art Installation Beneath Times Square

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Times Square is loud. But if you turn away from the glowing lights and ignore the cacophony of car horns, barkers, and tourists, you might notice a mysterious drone drifting from the subway grates below. It’s a curious metallic “wah-wah” that resembles a decaying gong, or a didgeridoo player hopelessly trapped in the sewer. It’s what I imagine being sucked into an eternal vortex sounds like. 

It’s more than mere mechanical noise. It’s a piece of sound art. Installed in 1977, it was created by artist Max Neuhaus, who aptly titled it “Times Square.”  Neuhaus made a machine that amplifies the resonance of the Square’s tunnel junction, exposing an uncanny hum that would otherwise remain muffled underground. Amazingly, he created the cloud of noise without the help of a computer or electronic music.

What’s more amazing, though, is that no one ever notices it’s there. Which is kind of the point. There’s no sign pointing out the work. You can’t find Neuhaus’ name anywhere around. The machine is hidden in the bowels of the tunnels below, and all you can see is a sea of cigarette butts, a metal grate, and upturned noses as people catch a whiff of the New York subway’s aroma du jour.  

Neuhaus kept it secret because he wanted people to discover it on their own, to experience that “Hey! Guess what I found!” moment. But it also prompts something worth mulling over: Is it possible to distract someone—even for a moment—from the brightest lights in the biggest city?

Well, try for yourself. You can find the buzz on a concrete island between 45th and 46th Streets, pinched between Broadway and 7th Avenue. There’s a good chance that a creepy costumed Elmo or Mario will mark the spot.   

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Art Lovers in England, Rejoice: France's Famous Bayeux Tapestry is Coming to the UK
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of France’s most prized national treasures, the Bayeux Tapestry, is officially heading to England for exhibition. The loan will mark the first time the fragile 11th century work has left France in nearly 1000 years, according to The Washington Post.

French president Emmanuel Macron announced news of the loan in mid-January, viewed by some as a gesture to smooth post-Brexit relations with Britain, ABC reports. The tapestry depicts the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, a historically important event replete with guts and glory.

Stretching for 210 feet, the Bayeux Tapestry’s nine embroidered panels tell the tale of Harold, Earl of Wessex, who swore an oath to support the right of William, Duke of Normandy, to the English throne once King Edward (a.k.a. Edward the Confessor) died without an heir. But after Edward's funeral at Westminster Abbey, Harold breaks his oath to William so he could be crowned king instead. Believing he was the rightful ruler, William—today remembered as William the Conqueror—decides to wage war and ultimately defeats Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

The historical narrative has endured for centuries, but the tapestry's provenance has been lost to time. Experts think that the artwork may have been created in England, shortly after the Battle of Hastings, although it’s unclear who designed and embroidered the scenes. Its original owner, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the half-brother of William the Conqueror, may have commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry. He became Earl of Kent after the Battle of Hastings, and this new title would have afforded him access to skilled artisans, The Guardian explains.

The Bayeux Tapestry is currently on display in the town of Bayeux in Normandy. It likely won’t leave France until 2020, after conservators ensure that it’s safe to move the artwork. According to The Telegraph, the tapestry might be be displayed at the British Museum in 2022.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
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Design
This Snow Sculpture of a Car Was So Convincing Cops Tried to Write It a Ticket
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.

Winter is a frustrating time to be on the road, but one artist in Montreal has found a way to make the best of it. As CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports, his snow sculpture of a DeLorean DMC-12 was so convincing that even the police were fooled.

Simon Laprise of L.S.D Laprise Simon Designs assembled the prank car using snow outside his home in Montreal. He positioned it so it appeared to be parked along the side of the road, and with the weather Montreal has been having lately, a car buried under snow wasn’t an unusual sight.

A police officer spotted the car and was prepared to write it a ticket before noticing it wasn’t what it seemed. He called in backup to confirm that the car wasn’t a car at all.

Instead of getting mad, the officers shared a good laugh over it. “You made our night hahahahaha :)" they wrote on a fake ticket left on the snow sculpture.

The masterpiece was plowed over the next morning, but you can appreciate Laprise’s handiwork in the photos below.

Snow sculpture.

Snow sculpture of car.

Snow sculpture of car.

Note written in French.

[h/t WGCL-TV]

All images courtesy of Simon Laprise.

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