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MTA Arts & Design


DeKalb Avenue

Bill Brand

Masstransiscope, 1980 (Restored 2008)

Hand painted panels, Lighting

A disarmingly simple artwork, placed in the unused subway station at Myrtle Avenue in 1980, has been restored. Masstransiscope turns the subway into a movie machine, presenting a colorful, animated "moving picture" to commuters as the train moves through the tunnel. With heavy cleaning by volunteers, the artwork became visible again in 2008.

The artwork has been viewed by millions of commuters from subway cars leaving the northbound platform of the DeKalb Avenue station on the express track. The 228 hand-painted panels are viewed through a series of vertical slits set into a specially constructed housing that runs the full 300' length of the old station. The piece works on the principle of the Zoetrope, a 19th century optical toy.

The movement of the train passing in front of the exhibition creates the illusion of a 20-second animated movie. In a regular movie the film passes through a projector to create an illusion of motion and the audience sits still. With Masstransiscope it is the audience that moves while the film stays in place.

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