If you’ve ever gazed despairingly in a spell of existential malaise out the window of a Manhattan-bound B or Q train, you’ve inadvertently born witness to one of New York’s hidden, though iconic, gems, filmmaker Bill Brand’s “Masstransiscope,” and potentially been resurrected.
The piece, comprised of 228 colorful hand-painted panels and inspired by the zoetrope, a 19th century optical toy, was first installed in 1980 and later restored in 2008 after falling into disrepair. WNET’s Thirteen caught up with Brand 30 years after the piece’s debut.
“I am always happy when I see it,” Brand told Thirteen. “Sometimes, I’m the only one on the train who notices it. At other times, it gets a big reaction and that feels good! When I was restoring it in 2008, I wondered how it would be understood now that moving image billboards have saturated the city’s public space. I was gratified to discover that it still works like a secret artwork and that no one mistakes it for advertising.”
Read the full interview here and watch a 2008 video of “Masstransiscope” above.