Home Abandoned Stations After Sandy, re-restoring the Masstransiscope

After Sandy, re-restoring the Masstransiscope

by Benjamin Kabak

I’ve been a long-time fan of Bill Brand’s Masstransiscope. It’s one of Arts for Transit’s more intriguing installations as it is a zoetrope in an abandoned subway station. Visible from the Manhattan-bound B and Q trains just north of De Kalb Ave., the art installation shows a series of moving images as the train passes by. Originally installed in the early 1980s, it was meticulously restored in 2009, but graffiti artists attacked. By mid-2013, it was again dark. Now, thanks to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal we know why.

Over the weekend, Ted Mann unveiled his tale of the restoration of the Masstransiscope. Apparently, vandals had taken advantage of the Superstorm Sandy shutdown to wreck havoc on Brand’s art. After the storm, Arts for Transit workers found that some of the 57 metal panels had been torn down while portions of the 228 still images had been tagged. Over the past year, the art has been meticulously restored, and last Wednesday, the Masstransiscope for again visible to Q and B train riders, many of whom are surprised by the moving images.

As part of the latest refurb, Brand has reduced the lighting requirements from two fluorescent bulbs per panel to one, and going forward, MTA employees and Arts for Transit officials are going to explore ways to better seal off the Myrtle Ave. station, the Masstransiscope’s home. As Bill Matheson, a Transit line manager, said, “Hopefully we won’t have to do it again before I retire.” [Wall Street Journal]

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JMB August 27, 2013 - 6:40 pm

Maybe put up a plexiglass casing that seals off the entire platform from track side? Coat it with that anti-paint window sealant we see on our trains and it should be good. These vandals shouldn’t be able to get to it to throw up their bullshit “art” unless they are accessing this platform from a street portal.

Good to hear it up and running again, truly one of my favorite things about the system. I caught it today briefly while on the N (yes, you can see it from the N but you have to be going slowish).

Nyland8 August 27, 2013 - 6:46 pm

Putting the lie to the notion that grafitti vandals are actually artists – because real artists do not deface other people’s art.

A real artist is someone who recognizes that there are actually square inches of surface area on the planet that are NOT improved by their tagging excretions. Grafitti vandals are no more than dogs, peeing on every tree they can find, and all the while deluding themselves into thinking they have an audience that extends beyond their fellow vandals.

They should all be given a few 55 gallon drums of paint remover, and sentenced to scratching off 100 sq yards of grafitti with a toothbrush.

Peter April 3, 2023 - 6:48 am

After being destroyed, Bill Brand’s underground “Masstransiscope” installation was repaired, making animated movements when subway users pass by.
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