Excerpt from “2001” by Wolfgang Staehle (German, b. 1950)
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, New York City
Time-lapse compilation of video footage, extracted at four-second intervals
Collection of the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Countless New Yorkers witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as they were unfolding. Every conceivable form of image-capturing device recorded that awful spectacle, earning it distinction as the most visually recorded event of all time.
Inadvertently, the approach of hijacked Flight 11 and its explosion through the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. were also chronicled by a pair of unmanned webcams in Brooklyn. Several days earlier, they had been situated in the south-facing window of an apartment building in Williamsburg as part of a project conceived by Wolfgang Staehle, a pioneering internet artist. Focused on lower Manhattan, the camera shutters were calibrated precisely to trip at four-second intervals, continuously snapping panoramic views programmed for live-streaming to the Postmasters Gallery in Manhattan. Staehle had arranged two similar, remote camera setups to transmit real-time scenes from Berlin and the Swabian countryside in Germany. Titled “2001”, this coordinated installation —scheduled to run from September 6 to October 3 — was intended to convey the predictable normalcy of life at the start of the 21st century. Manhattan’s downtown skyline represented the contributing influence of global capitalism.
In a sequence of twelve-seconds yielding three images, those mundane rhythms were ruptured as Staehle’s cameras chronicled the transformation of a routine workday into a city under siege. This rare footage, which records the launch of the terrorist attacks on America, would shift the perception of Staehle’s artwork from an aesthetic commentary to forensic evidence. For the next three weeks, his Brooklyn-based cameras continued to document lower Manhattan’s recast skyline with mournful impassivity.
In collaboration with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Cathedral will be screening this work in real-time throughout the day, free to the public. Presentation of this program is made possible through the generous support of 9/11 Memorial & Museum Presenting Sustainer Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.