Originally created by Bill Brand in 1980 as a way to utilize an unused subway station at Myrtle Avenue, Masstransiscope is arguably one of the most one-of-a-kind pieces of street art in the city today. Recently restored in 2008, the piece combines traditional street art with the design of a Zoetrope, or primitive motion picture device. The way it works is that from the window of the northbound express train coming from the DeKalb Avenue station, commuters can see 228 hand-painted panels passing by from behind a series of slits positioned in front of them. As the the series of images become slightly altered, coupled with the high speed of the train car and the pillars, the changing stream of images begin to take on the illusion of a 20 second moving picture.
Check out a video that we took of the subway art:
Sadly, the piece had originally undergone years of significant abuse that left the piece largely imperceptible. In 2008, the MTA made it their duty to restore it to its original condition in order to help share this marvel of creativity with future generations. A video from late 2012 shows large sections of the restored piece defaced by graffiti, but the work has recently been refaced as of this year.
If you’d like to find out more about the best subway art, check out out this roundup of the subway’s top 10 installations. You can also read about the MTA’s brand new art here. Don’t forget to check out this video of Masstransiscope taken by the artist himself Bill Brand either.