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Chris Sickels for MTA Arts & Design

By Peggy Roalf   Friday August 12, 2016

The MTA’s long running Arts & Design program  has a new face for the digital age. Instead of the stained glass and mosaic installations that had become synonymous with NYC's best public art program, digital art is the new normal, continuing with The Blowing Bowler, by Chris Sickels/Red Nose Studio.

“Fulton Center represents the future of the MTA, so we looked to technology that also would move Arts & Design into the future. A digital arts program gives us the opportunity to offer temporary art, to work with new digital artists and to produce art that engages our customers in a more immediate way,” said Sandra Bloodworth, director of MTA Arts & Design. “Large-scale electronic displays like the one in Fulton Center open up a world of possibility for new media artists to connect with our customers, whether it’s through a piece that makes them pause and smile or inspires a thought that stays with them on their journey.”

Through an arrangement with Westfield Properties, which manages Fulton Center on behalf of the MTA, all 52 videos air simultaneously for 30 seconds every 10 minutes, six times each hour. Viewers can watch a different sequence each time they walk past the installation space.

The current display, an animation called "The Blowing Bowler," features a man chasing after a bowler hat in the subway while cars from different decades roll past. Created by Chris Sickels/Red Nose Studio, this stop-motion animated short film airs simultaneously for two minutes at the top of each hour at Fulton Center, with promotional teasers aired at 30 subway stations via MTA’s On the Go Travel Station kiosks.

“We love the idea that his work is handmade. This idea of creating these really meticulous sets and figures and models, and we love seeing that work in juxtaposition to this really modern, new architectural public space here in lower Manhattan,” said Amy Hausmann. Sickels, a DART subscriber, created a dioramic model from wood, clay, fabric, wire, cardboard and found objects, then painstakingly filmed each motion as a frame of the film.

In a video interview about the work, Sickels said that he wanted “to create a series of animations that cover traveling across the history of the subway car and the evolution of the design of the cars…and to make it as magical as possible.” The film features comical cat-and-mouse antics in reference to the round-the-clock operations of the New York City Transit system and a ridership that is always on the move.

If you’re not in Lower Manhattan to experience it in the moment, see the video here.

 

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