Bill Brand

July 1980 - July 1986
Myrtle Street Station (Brooklyn), B,D,N,Q, Line
Photo © 1980 Lisa Kahane

For Masstransiscope, Bill Brand presented an animated movie to passengers on the B, D, N, & QB subway trains coming into Manhattan from Brooklyn. The project was modeled after the Zoetrope and Muybridge's Zoopraxiscope. 228 hand-painted panels were mounted in a self-contained illuminated unit along the 300-foot platform of the vacant Myrtle Avenue station in Brooklyn. The Zoetrope is a 19th century optical toy, which makes images inside a revolving cylinder appear to move. As the train moves past the hand-painted screens, the movie progresses for twenty seconds. "I wanted to provide subway riders with the kind of delight experienced by the viewers of the first motion pictures and at the same time give people an opportunity to engage in a work of art as part of their daily life." The project extends from Brand's work with kinetic imagery in its manipulation of color, line, rhythm, and figuration. He consulted perceptual psychologists, lighting designers and engineers, a machinist, an architect, and technicians to make the project over three years. The project was realized in cooperation with the MTA. Masstransiscope is the first completed public art project in any transit facility nationwide funded by the NEA through its Art in Public Places program. At the time, Brand completed 24 movies and has had 35 one-man shows in New York museums like the Whitney, MoMA, and Anthology film archives. "Masstransiscope provided a "movie" to a broad population in the same way that publicly commissioned sculptures and murals are."