Halloween season brings out some of the most creative minds in Hoboken. Walking down Garden Street or Bloomfield Street in particular, it’s impossible to miss the effort that goes into many apartment buildings’ Halloween displays. Neighbors collaborate to make walking down the street a whole new experience, bringing visitors and residents into the world of Halloween. Elaborate spooky scenes line the sidewalks, consisting of giant inflatable ghosts and monsters. Jack-o’-lanterns and spider webs take over the front steps. Skeleton props populate lawn chairs. If trick-or-treating isn’t on your to-do list this Halloween, it is worth taking the walk up and down each street to see some of the best Halloween decorations locally.
One building in particular is always catching our eye. You can find a mind-blowing Halloween display on the corner of 11th and Garden Street that may just seem like an overzealous Halloween enthusiast, but it’s actually so much more. The artist behind this elaborate display, Steven Vizena, crafts particular artistic scenes as a form of social commentary. Read on for Hoboken artist Steven Vizena’s take on what true horror is.
Approaching 11th and Garden, you will find the front and side yard of the corner building decked out in decor that looks a little different from the rest. At first glance, it’s easy to see that this is not a typical skeleton graveyard or ghost and goblins setup — but what is it exactly?
This display outside the home of visual artist Steven Vizena is the accumulation of several years of hard work — and a lot of rope. A giant spider web made of rope covers the front hedges, spanning from the front windows to the iron gate — with giant spiders living atop them. Mannequins draped in black and white plastic clothing and blue medical gloves hang from the trees, staring at something in their hands. A rotating display of black and white rectangles with faces popping out lights up above the mannequins. Above all of that, there is a giant white and silver squiggly “cloud” that connects the entire piece.
While this may seem like madness, it is actually a carefully thought-out piece of art that is making a statement about today’s society and our relationship with technology. There are three separate pieces that make up the display: “Internet Cloud Zombies,” “Caught Up and Consumed in the Web,” and “Trapped in a Two-Dimensional World.”
The giant “cloud” that covers the piece represents the digital internet Cloud of computer servers. The mannequins hanging below are zombies that are caught and consumed in “the web.” Looking closely, you will see that the mannequins are each staring at a smartphone in their hands. They are stuck in the web, forever looking down at their device. The floating rectangles with faces in them are actually smartphones as well — notice the “home button” on the front of the rectangle and the “camera lens” on the back. This piece is meant to illustrate our continuous cycle of being “stuck in our phones.”
Steven explains that “this installation depicts computer processors in an internet cloud network. Three processors stream three different feeds to groups of mobile phones — the faces reflecting the stream they follow and zombies consumed in the web.”
Steven was inspired to create this piece after walking around and constantly seeing people staring at their phones — which reminded him of zombies. He believes that new technology advances our civilization, but it can also have unintended effects. “Consider that it can connect, but also disconnect, isolate, displace and segregate us into targeted groups,” he warns. To him, this is not a piece saying technology is evil, but that its effects are something we should be aware of.
Steven has been an artist all his life, always finding a love for creating visually appealing and interesting pieces whenever he can. His work is usually big, flashy, colorful, and thought-provoking. He does not wish for his messages to be clearly written out for his audience — but wants them to sit with the piece and think for themselves.
While the display is fun to look at, the messaging behind it can be a frightening dose of reality. Steven encourages onlookers to take in the details of the piece and reflect on their own personal connection with technology. It’s not enough to just “beware” this Halloween season, but Steven hopes viewers will “Be Aware”!
To learn more about Steven and his art, check out his website.