This story is over 5 years old.


A Brooklyn Take On The Asian Night Market

An inside look at some of the interactive artwork at this year’s Brooklyn Night Bazaar with Art Director Ken Farmer.
November 29, 2012, 5:37pm

Every Friday and Saturday night from this past weekend up until December 22, the second annual Brooklyn Night Bazaar takes over a 40,000 square foot warehouse in the heart of Williamsburg, with a Brooklynized version of Asian night markets—local vendors selling everything from artisanal soaps to clocks made out of old books, food and beer from local restaurants, a sports room with ping-pong and indoor soccer, and a stage featuring music curated by The Fader, Impose, Hype Machine, and others. And of course, it wouldn't be properly Brooklynized without large-scale art installations subtly interwoven with the other elements in the space.

Brendan Shea’s electroluminescent wire installation.

An electroluminescent wire installation by Brendan Shea, made up of over 3,000 feet of red, orange, and white wire, is arranged in a canopy-like formation as an artistic interpretation of the strings of light often found at the Asian night markets.


Also on display are Nils Hackey and Jason Krugman‘s sound reactive light installations which are composed of 42 work lights programmed to project different sound-reactive sequences. "[We're] drawing off the industrial nature of the space to create a unique lighting," said the bazaar’s Art Director Ken Farmer. "It works on a dimmer, so it has a nice warm quality that will continue this spirit of how you can do something that’s actually kind of high technology in terms of the programming, but also creates a hearth-like feeling in the space."

Paul Notzold’s Textual Healing.

Textual Healing, by Paul Notzold is a projection of a static image with speech bubbles that people can text their own words into. On opening weekend, the image was two kids swinging, but later it will feature classic holiday films ranging from A Christmas Story to The Nightmare Before Christmas broken down into 500 frames and rendered in an animated style. "You can basically retell the story of these classic films by texting in the speech bubbles to the characters," said Farmer.

A screening room on the mezzanine level features video art from Leah Beeferman, Luke Barber-Smith, Nicolas Sassoon, and Sara Ludy. These artists explore space, whether architectural space in the built world, abstracted ideas of architectural space, and cosmic space, though animated GIFs, Second Life creations, and video loops.

Noah Furman’s take on the “sports room.”


In the "sports room," which includes ping-pong tables and indoor soccer, painter Noah Furman has painted an abstracted notion of a soccer field onto the floor, with two projections running behind the players—one of people playing video game soccer and the other streaming highlights of soccer games and classic matches.

On certain weekends, the mezzanine level will also host a fixed-price meal by a local restaurant. Artist David Rife is working with Thai restaurant Pok Pok to create a sound and image installation to go along with Pok Pok's meal on the weekend of December 8.

We spoke a bit more with with Farmer, also of Nuit Blanche NY, about the art of the Night Bazaar.

The Creators Project: What's different about the event this time around?
Ken Farmer: Last year’s setup, in the same spot, was just a 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Williamsburg divided into two 20,000-square-foot rooms. Last year, the vendors were primarily or almost exclusively in one room, and the other room was really just music. We also had a beer garden and a half-pipe for skating. This year we’re consolidating a little bit more so there will be music and vendors all mixed into one room and in the other room is a sports court. We’re going to have 20 ping-pong tables and a soccer field.

It seems like interactivity is a focal point of the art. Was that deliberate? Is that meant to reflect the nature of the event?
Last year, the market was three days, and this year we’re switching to a five-week Friday-Saturday format. We’re really kind of thinking about how this can be a more layered experience in terms of not just, “Ok, I went there, I shopped, I saw it,” but actually something where people want to stay for a while and want to think about coming back because it really is more than just a retail experience or a transaction based experience—it’s actually kind of an engaging and exciting thing. Transaction-based things feel cheap, so we’re trying to get beyond that. You can go check out some of the vendors, play soccer for a bit, go chill out, hear a band play, drink some beer. I think that’s a more preferable thing to just kind of storming through, buying a trinket, and moving out.

A lot of your previous projects (Nuit Blanche, the Autumn Bowl have also taken place at night. What is it about nighttime in cities that inspires you?
Maybe I would say that it’s unexpected. I think that we are getting more and more creative as a city, as a culture, getting more and more creative with nightlife. People are demanding more alternatives. I mean, I don’t think that ‘more’ is the greatest thing in the world, but the fact that people are lining up to go see like a 21st-century installation-based update of Macbeth is pretty cool.

Picking up on [the idea of the unexpected] a little bit more—you walk around all these kind of nondescript warehouses in Williamsburg and don’t really think much about them. They just kind of exist and you don’t really consciously acknowledge them, and so to be able to bring people into spaces like that and have them see what could happen and to do stuff with a bit of a DIY aesthetic…

I hate the word ‘empowerment’ because it implies a puppeteer, but [we want to] provide some means for people to say, ’I work a 9 to 5 job and it may or may not be stimulating, but I'm not going to just become a robot in a cycle. I want to have my field trips and I want to create things.' And hopefully by taking this nondescript carpet warehouse and turning it into this pop-up festival extravaganza, people may find some source of accessible inspiration there.