For Kota Ezawa, it's crunch time. The German-Japanese artist and Film Program faculty member has barely recovered from the tumult and applause surrounding the acquisition of one of his digitally animated works by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Now, he's plunged into a residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito and is presenting a public piece in the most iconic city in film history: New York. From March 31 to May 15, Madison Square Park is hosting Ezawa's City of Nature project, in which he distills images of nature -- a waterfall, a mountain, a marlin -- from movies and shows them as animations on four LCD screens. The commission is officially a part of Mad. Sq. Art, a program of the Madison Square Park Conservancy.
Ezawa sourced more than 40 movies for the project. "I was really interested in scenes where nature drives the story," he says. "Shots without human presence. No people. No buildings." Eagle-eyed viewers will detect some familiar films -- Brokeback Mountain, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Old Man and the Sea -- as well as a few that are less recognizable, for example a jungle shot from Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, or a waterfall from the 1960s German Western Winnetou.