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Look | MTA Installs New Digital Underground Art Project at Union Square

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The images were designed by Parsons students Jeanne Kelly, Hilal Koyuncu, Rose Maison, Umut Ozover, Josefina Santos and Jaqi Vigil. The images were designed by Parsons students Jeanne Kelly, Hilal Koyuncu, Rose Maison, Umut Ozover, Josefina Santos and Jaqi Vigil. (Julia Furlan/WNYC)

On Monday, the MTA opened a new digital art exhibit at its Union Square station in Manhattan. The underground show, called "Union Square in Motion," is two digital lenticular linear zoetropes that project nine sets of still abstract images, which create the illusion of animation for commuters passing by.

The project is, according to its creators, the largest of its kind in the world. But it is not the subway's first zoetrope.

"Bryant Park in Motion" was the first digital linear zoetrope to be installed by the MTA. The project was in the 42nd St.-Bryant Park subway station last year. (Check out this video of two guys scoping it out here.)

Commuters passing through the subway tunnel north of Dekalb Ave. may also remember filmmaker Bill Brant's "Masstransiscope," another zoetrope (but not of the digital variety) that was installed in the tunnel in 1980 and restored in 2009.

"Union Square in Motion" was created students at Parsons the New School of Design. Check out images of the project below.

A commuter stops to gaze at the zoetrope, which has been installed in a vacant retail space outside the turnstiles below the Food Emporium escalator on 14th St. just east of Fourth Ave.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
A commuter stops to gaze at the zoetrope, which has been installed in a vacant retail space outside the turnstiles below the Food Emporium escalator on 14th St. just east of Fourth Ave.
A close up of “Union Square in Motion,” which was made by Professors Joshua Spodek and Anezka Sebek in the Parsons Art, Media, and Technology program.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
A close up of “Union Square in Motion,” which was made by Professors Joshua Spodek and Anezka Sebek in the Parsons Art, Media, and Technology program.
The images were designed by Parsons students Jeanne Kelly, Hilal Koyuncu, Rose Maison, Umut Ozover, Josefina Santos and Jaqi Vigil.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The images were designed by Parsons students Jeanne Kelly, Hilal Koyuncu, Rose Maison, Umut Ozover, Josefina Santos and Jaqi Vigil.
The nine sets of abstract and organic-themed images by the student artists are each unique and create the illusion of animation when commuters pass by.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The nine sets of abstract and organic-themed images by the student artists are each unique and create the illusion of animation when commuters pass by.
The stills are in a wide range of colors.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The stills are in a wide range of colors.
Each angle provides a unique view.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
Each angle provides a unique view.

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Comments [6]

somebody from manhattan

It is very stupid. It doesn't even do anything! I walk past it every single day.

Feb. 10 2012 10:57 PM
Bernie from UWS

To Jessica's point, I hope this is part of a larger effort to fix up the stations and especially CLEAN them up. They're so disgusting. I can't believe people tolerate the filth down there as much as they do. Why not a project to start spraying down the platforms and washing them with bleach once a week? And yes, more public art too.

Sep. 28 2011 08:10 AM
Jeanne Kelly from Astoria

Sure.
Most zoetropes are built like cylinders that you spin. As you look through slits in the side of the cylinder, as it's spinning, still images appear to move.
A digital lenticular linear zoetrope takes that cylinder and flattens it out. Now, instead of the moving the zoetrope to see the pictures animated, you have to do the moving - just walk back and forth in front of it.
And thanks to the monitors, lenses and a little coding magic we can make animation in small spaces - instead of the images having to be full size and scale - like they need to be most zoetropes (which takes up tons of space and makes them prohibitive in some spaces) - the digital lenticular zoetrope can fit almost anywhere. And we can change and add animations easily and remotely.
http://jeanne-kelly.com/?p=635

Sep. 27 2011 02:10 PM
Jacob

Cool. Can you explain a little more what a digital lenticular linear zoetrope is?

Sep. 27 2011 01:25 PM
Jeanne from Astoria

Hi Jessica,

As one of the artist I can tell you - it was all Kickstarter and out of our own (now empty ;) ) pockets.

Sep. 27 2011 12:07 PM
Jessica from Brooklyn

What's the deal with these? Does the MTA pay for this or is it donated by the school (or maybe privately funded)? I hope it's one of the latter. I'm all for cool and innovative public art, but I'd rather the cash-strapped MTA be spending money on the simple digital signs in my local R station that tell me when the next trains are coming.

Sep. 27 2011 08:16 AM

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