CHELSEA — An artist whose stick-figure creations have been popping up around the city has constructed a miniature metropolis out of foam and pipe cleaners on the West Side.
A hashtag on a foam sign beneath the pop-up piece directs viewers to the Instagram page of its creator, who revealed himself to DNAinfo as Chelsea resident Greg Bishop.
“I call it my pop-up gallery, because I’m always either putting stuff on that corner or on 29th [Street] — wherever I think it will stay the longest — because Sanitation takes stuff down,” he explained. “I’m not really an artist — I play with it in my spare time.”
The 49-year-old started crafting pipe-cleaner stick figures and leaving them around the city a few years ago, he said.
But after he lost his fashion industry job last year due to company downsizing, the hobby became “something to get my mind off the job search, or whatever else was going on at the time.”
Bishop's most recent creation tells a story about the dangers of social media and technology — from the mom-and-pop shops, restaurants and library that have gone out of business due to online competition, to the stick figures “checked out from the world” because they’re on their phones, he explained.
In one of the apartments featured in “Dafuture,” a man has killed himself because he realizes he has hundreds of Facebook friends but no real-life friends.
In another room, a little girl celebrates her birthday alone with her stuffed animals because her parents are busy texting.
“I’m not a big fan of social media — I think it’s slowly ruining civilization,” Bishop said. “It’s a marvelous technology, but… people don’t feel obligated to anyone anymore. No one’s connected.”
Most of Bishop’s creations stay up for about a week before they get taken down or destroyed by natural causes, he noted.
An island he installed on the corner of West 29th Street was “devastated” by the rain, while another he created for Pride month was taken down by sanitation crews after one day, he said.
“It’s all relatively cheap material,” he said. “[They’re] kind of made with that in mind, that that’s going to happen.”
As with “Dafuture" — which was still intact as of Monday evening — one of the goals of his smaller pipe-cleaner projects is to get people to look up from their electronic devices.
“I got frustrated — people would walk down the block, and everyone was looking at their phone and no one was looking at what was around them,” he explained.
“I left those little guys around for the few people who did stop and smell the roses.”