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Why a 12-ton water tank is in the middle of Times Square

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/06/2017 Sean Rossman

The 12-ton water tank in the middle of New York City's Times Square looks more like a David Blaine stunt than a three-day art exhibition.

Yet starting Thursday, sightseers in the Big Apple will revel in what organizers are calling an "immersive" art experience.

For five hours per day, a rotating cast of artists will perform a series of everyday tasks inside the tank — from cleaning and reading the newspaper, to playing the guitar. As the artists go about their duties, the tank will fill and empty with water. The artists then must react to their changing surroundings.

The purpose of the Holoscenes exhibit is to illustrate the effects of climate change, most notably the real consequences of drought and flooding, said Times Square Arts director Debra Simon.

Performance artist Annie Saunders performs "Cleaning" during a press preview from Holoscenes, a performance-installation in Times Square. The World Science Festival will launch Science in the Square, a four-day event that brings science—and climate science in particular—to the crossroads of the world, May 31, 2017, beginning with a press preview at 11am on the Broadway Pedestrian Plaza. The preview will include an excerpt from Holoscenes, an epic performance-installation, created by the artist Lars Jan and his company Early Morning Opera, that features a cast of performers in a twelve-ton, 8’ x 6’ x 10’ glass aquarium and viscerally connects everyday actions to climate change. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Performance artist Annie Saunders performs "Cleaning" during a press preview from Holoscenes, a performance-installation in Times Square. The World Science Festival will launch Science in the Square, a four-day event that brings science—and climate science in particular—to the crossroads of the world, May 31, 2017, beginning with a press preview at 11am on the Broadway Pedestrian Plaza. The preview will include an excerpt from Holoscenes, an epic performance-installation, created by the artist Lars Jan and his company Early Morning Opera, that features a cast of performers in a twelve-ton, 8’ x 6’ x 10’ glass aquarium and viscerally connects everyday actions to climate change.

The installation is the focal part of Science in the Square, a collection of exhibitions and demonstrations in the middle of Times Square. The public event, which spans Thursday through Saturday, coincides with the multi-day World Science Festival.

Also in the Square will be something called the Energy Floor, a dance floor and walk space that conducts human motion into electricity. Tourists can dance and walk over it to generate more energy. There also will be a way to charge your cellphone using the sidewalk energy.

Science in the Square is a collaboration between Times Square Arts and the World Science Festival.

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