About the Project
For Masstransiscope, Bill Brand presented an animated movie to passengers on the B, D, N, and Q subway trains coming into Manhattan from Brooklyn. The project was modeled after the zoetrope, a 19th-century optical toy, which animated images inside a revolving cylinder, so that they appeared to move when viewed through narrow slits. In tribute to Eadweard Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope, too, Brand mounted 228 hand-painted panels in a self-contained, illuminated unit along the three-hundred-foot platform of the vacant Myrtle Avenue station in Brooklyn.
As trains moved past the screens, a sequence of colorful, abstract shapes progressed for twenty seconds. The project built on Brand’s work with kinetic imagery as a means of manipulating color, line, rhythm, and figuration; the project was also informed by discussions with perceptual psychologists, lighting designers and engineers, a machinist, and an architect, which were held over the course of the three years Brand worked on the project.