Single Storey America


¨There was much climbing over and under various obstructions, but the line felt amazingly serene. It was like a secret world above all the traffic and the noise… The next time you are walking down in Chelsea, think about the secret world above your head. It's worth keeping the line just so people can dream about it.¨
--Jake Dobkin, 2002 (comments from one of many grass-routes websites documenting the High Line in words and images)

Liisa Roberts, a recipient of the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Commission, will work with Eyebeam's Production Studios to create a series of short films based on individual New Yorkers' experiences and visions of the long abandoned, elevated, west-side railroad line, known as the High Line. The films will attempt to document the unique personal significance the High Line has held for many residents as a kind of secret garden, at a time when the High Line's identity and physical structure are being transformed into that of a public venue.

In previous projects such as the sound installation 'Sidewalk,' created for ArtPace in San Antonio, TX in 1999, and in the community based multi-media project 'What’s the Time in Vyborg?' initiated in 2000, Roberts has worked with the representation of subjective factors which shape a community's perception of urban monuments.

In this project, Roberts would like to help preserve private histories of those who have encountered the High Line in the past, to create a living archaeology that will allow visitors to the renovated Line to experience the site in uniquely personal ways. Her collaborators will be selected from people who attend High Line community meetings. The short films they create will give form to a fleeting sense of connection to place, which is part memory, part fiction and part wishful projection, to give public expression to the undocumented history of a New York City landmark.

Project Created: 
January 2006
Projects: Single Story America
People: Liisa Roberts, Veronica Skogberg
Research: Production Lab
Project Type: Animation