VIDEO: Robert Wilson on Bringing Robert Downey Jr. and Boris the Porcupine to Times Square's Jumbotrons

Robert Wilson
(Photo © Tom Chen)

Robert Wilson may be best known as an avant-garde theater director and designer, collaborating with everyone from William S. Burroughs to Philip Glass and Marina Abramovic, but he is also a video artist, creating work that plays with our perceptions of time and duration. Wilson’s “Video Portraits” (also known as VOOM portraits) are slow-moving shots that pose popular figures like Robert Downey, Jr., Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Jeanne Moreau in tableaux modeled on art-historical references. A selection of these pieces are taking over Times Square for the next month, lighting up advertising screens every night from 11:57 to midnight with their over-saturated colors.

The portraits on view range from an acrobatic sumo wrestler to a 19th-century surgery patient and one very inquisitive porcupine. ARTINFO caught Wilson at the debut of his outdoor exhibition and spoke with him about his choice of subjects and how Times Square has changed since he first came to New York at the tender age of seven years old.