You can’t see Lake Erie from here. The vast sheet of ice is just a few blocks away, down Ontario Street. But in Public Square, the lake is out of sight, out of mind.
Except for a video kiosk — about the size of your living room TV — showing live feeds of the ice, from the harbor of Put-in-Bay and the University of Toledo. Most commuters are oblivious, striding to and from work, focused on getting out of the cold. Their faces are hidden in layers of hats and hoods and scarves. They don’t make eye contact. They don’t stop.
But Lisa Dansby does. The 47-year-old Clevelander says watching the ice brings her peace while she’s waiting for her bus.
“I look to see if anything’s moving,” Dansby said. “It catches my attention all the time.”
The kiosk, the centerpiece of the Waiting for a Break public art installation, been here since Dec. 16, installed by artist Julia Christensen, an Oberlin College associate professor of integrated media, and sponsored by LAND Studio.
“I think the main idea is to connect people to the lake in a way they’re not usually connected to it,” said LAND Studio project manager Vince Reddy said in a November interview. “Most people, they might see it from the highway. But especially in the winter time, people don’t often engage with it or even think about it.”
There are six cameras, on South Bass Island, Gibraltar Island and the University of Toledo. They show the lake freezing in December, then breaking a bit during the warm spells of January, and now a vast tundra of white. You can see Perry’s monument on the horizon and quivering bare branches in the foreground.
If you want to engage with the video streams without braving the cold, you can see the live streams here.
Or, visit SPACES Gallery in Hingetown, where videos play on a loop.