January 29, 2009

Mass Transit Art

In the 1970s Bill Brand, a young artist and filmmaker, set out to create a zoetrope inside the New York City subway (A zoetrope is one of the earliest moving picture device shown below). He approached the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about this motion picture and the MTA approved! Hooray! This zoetrope was named "Masstransiscope". This was also before MTA's Arts for Transit program, so as a part of the NYC art history "Masstransiscope" is one of the first official underground pieces of art!

The piece of art is one long light box next to the subway track (I believe the Q and the B trains going into Manhattan). There are slits and paintings on the light box to create panels or stills. And because of the moving train, the images begin to move!

From the 1970s through the 1980s millions of strap hangers experienced "Masstransiscope". Now after nearly 2 decades of decay and layers of graffiti it has been restored to its original state!

You can see the zoetrope here:

I have yet to see this masterpiece on the Q/B trains, but I'll make a special trip to see it!

- Jess


Shelley Noble said...

I've been a huge fan of, not only paper pop-ups, but also of large scale lenticular optics like this! Thanks so much for telling us otherwise I would have missed it!

Gwynne said...

I've been wondering where this art came from -- I enjoy it every morning!