DeKalb Av (B/Q)


Bill Brand
Artwork in hand painted panels with fluorescent lights by Bill Brand viewed from a moving subway car through vertical slits showing the pained colorful abstract panels installed in the subway tunnel.
“Masstransiscope” (2008/1980) by Bill Brand at NYCT DeKalb Avenue Station. Photo: Rob Wilson

About the Project

"Masstransiscope” turns the subway into a movie machine, presenting a colorful, animated "moving picture" to commuters as the train moves through the tunnel. The artwork can be seen from Manhattan-bound B or Q subway cars departing DeKalb Avenue Station.  

The 228 hand-painted panels are viewed through a series of vertical slits set into a specially constructed housing that runs the full 300' length of the old station and illuminated by fluorescent lights. You see the work through the slits and the light reflects off the painting and back through the slits. The piece works on the principle of the Zoetrope, a 19th century optical toy. The movement of the train passing in front of the exhibition creates the illusion of a 20-second animated movie. In a regular movie the film passes through a projector to create an illusion of motion and the audience sits still. With “Masstransiscope” it is the audience that moves while the film stays in place. 

A disarmingly simple artwork was originally installed in the unused subway station at Myrtle Avenue in 1980, the artwork was restored, with heavy cleaning by volunteers, and became visible again in 2008.

About the Artist

Bill Brand is a multi-disciplinary artist whose films, public artwork, installations and works-on-paper have exhibited worldwide in museums, galleries microcinemas and on television. Bill Brand’s artwork has been featured at Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Gallery of Art, Anthology Film Archive and Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art. He is represented by Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre, Paris. His films have been presented at major film festivals including the Berlin Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival. Bill Brand is Professor Emeritus at Hampshire College and teaches Film Preservation at New York University's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation graduate program. He is co-owner of BB Optics, Inc., a company that specializes in archival film preservation and post-production services. Bill Brand founded the showcase and workshop Chicago Filmmakers and co-founded Parabola Arts, where he is currently an artistic director. Bill Brand lives in New York City.

"Masstransiscope" by Bill Brand