Pleasure Dome: A 'Remote Country Field' Turns Peck Slip Playful

Josh Levine, the creator of duskspace on Peck Slip, says he hopes visitors "will enjoy the simple pleasure of lying in a field on a warm summer night looking up at the stars, even if it is only a simulation." Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 27, 2018

In the park-poor South Street Seaport, even a small patch of grass can send visitors into fits of cartwheeling, or a sudden impulse to contemplate the evening sky.

That’s what you’ll discover at duskspace, the installation of artificial turf beneath a 31-foot-high dome of tubular steel at the eastern end of Peck Slip, near South Street. The project, which went up early this month and is due to come down after Sept. 4, is part of the city Parks Department’s Art in the Parks Program. In the evening, it is intended “to synthetically recreate the experience of being in a remote country field at dusk—in the last place you would expect to encounter it,” writes its creator, Josh Levine, in his mission statement.

To add to the experience, visitors can tune into the sound of chirping crickets on their phones.

This being the city, there are few real stars for gazing, so Levine has installed a couple of LED constellations of his own.

Now 50, Levine said he was 30 when he first stood under a “truly dark night sky” and saw stars. “That was a profound experience,” he wrote in an email. “It completely changed how I see the ‘night’ in the city. Duskspace is a direct result of that moment.”

Day or night, there is something transformative about duskspace. Adults who (presumably) don’t normally choose to stand on their heads in public, do so here. Dads throw their kids in the air. Couples cuddle. Children do whatever children do when they feel free. And most often, people simply lie down, and turn their eyes skyward.

Asked what most delights him about watching people use the space, Levine, who frequently visits at night, replied: “When someone walks into the center of the dome, lays down on their back, looks up, puts their hands behind their head, bends one knee, and then gets lost like that for a long time… that’s when I smile.”