Monday, December 05, 2011

Subway Series #2 - Subway Zoetrope

Well, technically maybe it should be #1 -- I first posted this almost exactly 2 years ago, so if you think it looks familiar, that's why! However, that post was wrecked for some time, as I explained in Subway Series #1: "With my animation obsession, I naturally always get a kick out of watching it and one day I got a whim to share it here, so took my little Optio to work with me one day, worked past rush hour & then simply rode back & forth across the Manhattan Bridge, filming the zoetrope each time, until I got a decent shot. Just discovered that I'll have to redo that, I'd put that on Yahoo Video which I've JUST discovered is now entirely devoted to pet-food-manufacturer-subsidized cute animal videos - no more you-tube-esque user uploads & sharing, my video is gone & the 2008 Masstransiscope post just shows a black square. BOO! Can't find the original clip anywhere so I'll just have to redo it."

Well, I went to redo it tonight, but I didn't wait until late enough and I was tired (had to work on Saturday & be in early today), and I was running out of steam by the time I got a clear shot (need a window with no people sitting in front of it), and then the train stopped dead for a good half a minute right when we got to the zoetrope & then just crawled out. ARGH. Plus I'd set the camera to super-high quality which is an utter waste when filming on the subway - all you get is highly defined graininess. Bleah. I was too zonked to try again, though, so I figured I'd just go home & see if I could do anything with the one shot. I downloaded it and sure enough, it sucked, but somehow while I was working on trying to see if I could cut out at least some of the sitting-still part, I stumbled across the original video clips.


So once again, for your viewing pleasure, here is Masstransiscope, by Bill Brand.

Original 2008 post text:

Graffiti artwork animated by the movement of the subway train. Can be seen just before the Manhattan Bridge on Manhattan-bound N, Q & B trains. Not my art, I just pointed a camera at it while I rode past on the train. I like it 'cause it puts some fun into my morning commute!

I'd put this up on Yahoo Video earlier this week & since I seem to be indulging in a lot of New Yorky posts this week, this one fits right in.

It's funny, this giant zoetrope was actually originally installed in 1980. By the time I started riding this particular line, the animation panels had been completely covered in graffiti. I'd noticed the slits - it had occured to me that they resembled a zoetrope, but I didn't realize, until the sequential frames were restored & all the sudden one day I was looking out the subway car window & seeing bouncing balls & rocketships flying by, that it actually IS one!

For more information check out!

There's also a blog with a short circa-80's news piece about it from the - shows how he designed it (check it out, no computers, he actually built a big working model) & then he & the reporter actually go into the installation in the Myrtle Avenue subway station (abandoned but still down there, you sometimes hear those called "ghost stations"). You can see that here.


Buck said...


bonnie said...

I always get a kick out of seeing this on my commute.

I'm bummed out that I used the wrong setting on the camera - it would've made an interesting addition to this to show what the zoetrope looks like from a stationary train, then starting into action as the train begins to move. Might have to go back & try again sometime!