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]