The video on your phone is nowhere as interesting as looking out of the subway window. You just have to be looking at the right time.
Through the darkness in a subway tunnel that the Q train travels there is a show that exposes itself only to those who are paying attention.
As the train speeds toward the end of a Brooklyn tunnel that leads to the Manhattan Bridge the art comes to life. Colors seem to jump off the wall like you’re watching a cartoon and a spaceship appears to take off. Growing, twisting, bouncing, flying and flipping -- this wall art moves just as fast as the train.
As the New York Times reports, the piece was first painted in the late 1970s, the brainchild of artist and filmmaker Bill Brand. He reportedly wanted to create a mass-transit version of a zoetrope. He named it "Masstransiscope".
A zoetrope, invented in 1834 by William George Horner, is an early form of motion picture projector that consisted of a drum containing a set of still images. That drum turned in a circular fashion in order to create the illusion of motion.
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The piece fell into disrepair in the mid-80s, and was for about a decade reduced to a blur, or a mess of spraypaint. But in 2009, it was resurrected again. The New York Times reported on it at the time, and even then -- before smartphones had exploded as much as they have now -- not many noticed the piece, it said.
"In a moderately crowded car on the Q line on Wednesday morning, most of Mr. Brand’s potential audience, truth be told, did not notice the rebirth of Masstransiscope," the reporter wrote. "But Mr. Brand said he loved the idea that maybe only a few riders per train, or even one, daydreaming out into the tunnel darkness, caught sight of the piece."
So next time you ride the Q train keep your head up -- you just might catch a glimpse of something everyone else is missing.