m a s s t r a n s i s c o p e b y b i l l b r a n d
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I was born in South Brooklyn. The very first week Masstransiscope was installed, I got to see it through the windows of a Q train. It was like a great secret. I would tell friends about what was coming up on the ride and they wouldn’t believe me until we sped by.
Now I take the B or Q every day to work. Even before this week’s NYT article was published, I began to notice Masstransiscope again. I wish I could say it was because I was looking for it. But no ! It was because every single B/Q train conductor makes a halting stop right in front of the art display and sits there for about 45 seconds. The train conductors must have been ordered to do so by the B/Q supervisor. As you know best, the display is meant to be seen from a speeding car, not at an abrupt stop. The passengers only see narrow vertical slivers, not the moving rocket. Can you please educate the B/Q supervisor not to stop the train in front of Masstransiscope? It’s annoying because it defeats the concept of the art display.
- Miss Goldberg, 08/01/2009
Dear Miss Goldberg,
Thank you so much for your wonderful memories. I’m glad you can enjoy the piece again.
When I designed Masstransiscope 30 years ago the trains even then always slowed down and stopped as they still do today. So, I designed that feature into the piece. I actually like that the illusion breaks down and you can see the slits and the static paintings behind them. That was, in fact, part of the concept. So don’t be angry with the conductors! I also like that you can get on the train at the front, middle or back and the train will slow down at a different point in the animation. In order to design the images, I built a working model with a dial that made it go fast or slow or even stop so I could see what the image would look like under all circumstances. You can see a video of the model in the top video clip above.
I am so pleased to hear from you. I remember in the early 1980’s that there was a guy who carried a saxophone and wore a green hat with pingpong balls on the end of two antennae. He would announce to the train that he was from outer space and that his ship crashed and that he needed money to repair it. Then, to prove he was for real, he told the riders to look out the window and he’s play his sax with the images. I don’t know if he made any extra money this way but I always thought it was cool!
Keep spreading the secret!
Wow ! The YouTube video surprised me because I realized I have never seen the entire piece–starting at the first frame. I always catch on toward the end and watch until the rocket launch. I still say it is better viewed fast, mostly because I always board the same car. (I think all rush hour riders do.) That means every day my train car comes to a stop at the same art frame.
The best thing about Masstransiscope in the year 2008 is that most riders–except for me–keep their eyes glued to text messaging. Even 30 years later, I am still reading my book!! When you read, you look up now and again. That’s when I notice what’s out the window. I can’t help smiling to myself about how times have changed. In the ’70s, it was either read your book, sleep or look out the windows.
It’s funny how when you discover things as a kid, you never think through how or why something was created. Being grown now, I was very shocked to learn there was an actual person behind this ! It never occured to me that transit art would require any engineering. (It’s funny because this week I watched the 2008 dvd documentary Man on Wire about the Frenchman who tightrope walked between the Twin Towers. I remember this event, too, from a young age. I never gave any thought to the complexity behind that, either.)
I don’t know if you read the Dec.16 article Times about an MTA pilot program: Coca Cola ads wallpapering all subway windows. Passengers cannot see out the windows except for a couple pin prick holes. I know you are an artist, not a politician but is there any way you can stop this from happening on the Q/B line? If the MTA expands this to all subway lines, it will be impossible–or at the least very difficult–to view Masstransiscope.
I just wanted you to know how fun it is to have my reading or daydreams interrupted by a runaway mosaic. Yours is the only art I get to see M-F. I will try not to get too irked at the conductors but I can’t promise anything. :)
- Miss Goldberg 06/01/2009
I have been traveling on this train line for 42 years when it was the D, QJ, M, QB… Imagine my thrill when my daughter pointed out your work one beautiful morning. It brought a smile to my face and made the start of my day that much enjoyable. Hopefully every now and then people will look up just in time to see your wonderful installment.
Thank you for your effort and for persevering and bringing it back to us city folk.
- Randy 10/02/2009
Thanks for your appreciation and thanks to your alert daughter for noticing it!
I love telling people about your work. I have seen times when I have made videos of your work and someone would see me and say,”I have been riding this train for years and never knew those lights were there.”
This is a best kept secret in NYC. My husband and I lead mission teams here and I love it when they travel this route so I can tell them to be sure and watch for this beautiful moving art.
Thanks for lighting up the subway in an enjoyable way.
- Amanda, 08/08/2010
I’ve always see this amazing and intriguing artwork every time I’m on the train leaving Brooklyn. So thankful that it was restored two years ago for all to cherish throughout their lifetimes. Very beautiful and awesome!
- Pam, 10/08/2010
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