“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
is a common philosophical question about our perceptions and reality. I had a whopper of a modern-day version of this that went like:
If a giant enormous building has a creative colorful design all over it and I see it, but the internet has no record of it’s meaning, does it have meaning? Did it even really happen?
On December 6th, I was in New York city walking from a doctor’s appointment back to Penn Station when I rounded the corner and saw THIS.
Wow. I stopped and snapped some photos. I looked at my watch and headed off to catch the train.
My train was barely out of Penn Station when I Googled to learn more. What was it that the writing on the store said, ‘designal?’
Google corrected me “Showing results for desiqual’. I clicked on Desiqual.com and saw from their logo that they liked to write their name backwards or mirror style
and they liked lots of interesting print patterns on their clothing. This was definitely the right business.
Okay, so let me try to find out about the building paint job.
I Googled ‘Desiqual Store Painting’
Up came this article from 2013 about the store painting, (https://www.behance.net/gallery/7674559/Painting-the-Desigual-store-in-Midtown-Manhattan)
Bingo I figured, but when I looked, the photos of the building’s paint job did not match what I had seen. I looked on my phone again. No, this was NOT what it showed.
I changed my search to give me results in the last year. Nothing about the building being painted. I went back to the Behance article, saw that it mentioned it being in Manhattan by Herald Square. I changed my Google search to include those terms and now found a new article
“To stand out from the commotion of Herald Square, Desigual covered the facades of its New York City outpost with bold and brilliant work by Colossal. It took 12 painters 13 days and 550 man-hours to paint the store’s two 60-foot walls…”
No….. still NOT what my eyes had just seen. WHAT!
I became a bit obsessed. Could it be that no one had written about it online yet?
I tried limiting my search results to something published in the last year, perhaps they had repainted it. This only gave me information about some new clothing line Desiqual was promoting.
At this point I considered my options. I could call the store? And ask?
I imagined the conversation,
“Hi, I was walking by your store and noticed the beautiful paintings on the outside of the building and was trying to find out about them.”
(lots of background noise from December Christmas foot traffic) “Yes, that’s the right building, the one that is painted.”
“Can you tell me who painted it?”
“Oh a lot of people, they had a big crew of guys.”
“When did they do it?”
“I don’t know. I’m new here. They hired me for Christmas sales. We’re very busy. I’m going to have to put you on hold.”
And with this imaginary conversation in my head and feeling kind of foolish, I never made the call. Shame on me for not exploring options of acquiring information other than Google.
I was looking for a photo on my phone yesterday and saw the building photo again. I Googled one more time, just for the hell of it “desiqual store painting” and limited to results in the last year.
Up came a story dated December 20, 2019
The Spanish firm Desigual has just reopened its flagship store in New York, with the help of the Santander artist Okuda San Miguel — a regular collaborator of the brand — and its characteristic multicoloured style.
and one from January 3, 2020
I looked back at the photo. I had apparently seen the building in the Internet News Gap. While many events are recorded online in almost real time — politics, sports, etc., apparently enormous buildings being painted takes some number of weeks to be recorded online. I saw the building painted and photographed it on December 6th. I could have broken the story, if publishing such a photo with no details about why it looks like that, could be considered breaking the news.
Just now it occurred to me to look in the @desiqual Twitter feed, but I still don’t see anything about the building. And of course the way New Yorkers rush by during commuting hours, I was the only person who seemed to consider the building noteworthy enough to grab a photo.
It’s left me considering the question:
If an event is unknown to the Internet, did it really happen?
It left me unsettled to discover a giant physical event that Google was unaware of.
And I wondered, is this how conspiracy theories are hatched? What if I had assumed that someone with serious media connections was involved in removing all evidence of that building having been painted.
I thought back to 30 years ago. I would have assumed there was a NYC paper which had an article about it and that if I lived in NY that I might have seen it and I would have continued on my way, too intent on catching the train to have thought more than, “cool building.” I probably would not have been carrying a camera with me when going to a doctors appointment back then, so I wouldn’t have had anything other than my memory and admiration for the paint job.