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Parasitic Subway Projector
November 5, 2005 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Parasitic Subway Projector: High concept German art students cram a Mac mini and a projector into a suitcase and mount it to the side of a subway car with suction cups. The resulting images, projected onto the tunnel walls, make for a fascinating work of public art. [QuickTime] Link via: The Unofficial Mac Weblog
posted by aladfar (61 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Of course, attempting something like this here in the States might well result in a long stay with Homeland Security.
posted by aladfar at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2005


... or get you shot. Attaching a suitcase to the outside of the train will probably count as an imminent threat...
posted by uncle harold at 7:51 AM on November 5, 2005


Apart from that: really nice concept.

Reminds me of a similar, but low-tech, installation in Bochum, Germany in the late nineties (sorry, no link). They fixed full size posters along the tunnel walls, which would act as a flip book when the train would travel at full speed. They had only short strips in the middle of the tunnels, so now and again you would see a guy jogging outside the train, or a fish swimming along.
posted by uncle harold at 7:56 AM on November 5, 2005


The idea and imagery are wonderful. But watching someone attach a large metal suitcase to a subway in front of other commuters who didn't care was surreal in itself. It also makes me wonder, is disappearing a German artist to CIA black camp art, too? Or at least a good basis for a new Hogan's Heroes type of sitcom?
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:57 AM on November 5, 2005


Aside from the slightly unnerving terrorism angle - WAY COOL! Pepsi, Nike, Coca-Cola, and infomercials can't be too far off!! Maybe subway porn??
posted by matty at 7:59 AM on November 5, 2005


Now what would be interesting, uncle harold, would be if they had a similar arrangement with photos on the tunnel, but variably-timed strobes would activate different threads within the sequences. Or different windows would show you different sequences.

BTW, perhaps dressing as such a ridiculously cliched German Art Student helped people assume he wasn't a terrorist.
posted by argybarg at 8:02 AM on November 5, 2005


Gorgeous, and ballsy (reckless?) as all hell. How long before advertisers use this to force more commercials into my day?
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:04 AM on November 5, 2005


Also I really wish I had the funds to risk losing 3000 euro worth of equipment in a subway tunnel.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2005


I've always wanted to mount a projector on a car and drive cross country watching movies on the backs of trucks.

The PATH train from New York to Jersey has a series of lenticular panels mounted in the tunnel that each animate part of a film, and sequentially stitch together to create a moving image screen that seems to follow along with the train. (It's a car commercial.)
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:12 AM on November 5, 2005


Also, the movie is very well put together....

Nice Post.
posted by anastasiav at 8:37 AM on November 5, 2005


It must be nice to live in Germany and not get shot for doing a cool, artistic thing.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2005


Gorgeous, and ballsy (reckless?) as all hell. How long before advertisers use this to force more commercials into my day?

Had the rare occasion to ride the bus here in L.A. a few weeks back (car troubles)... and was shocked to find they'd installed video screens. I've seen that elsehwere but the difference was that scattered among nice things like history trivia games and famous quotations were corporate ads... played LOUD. People actually cleared out of their seats to avoid being in the speaker path of the things, and it takes a lot to get a busgoer to voluntarily give up a precious seat.

Really love this video. Curious that the first thing that occurred to me -- as with everyone else, apprently -- was the "can't believe they got away with it" post-9/11 thing. It really is a tough time for those who want to want to do cool things.
posted by crantangelo at 8:57 AM on November 5, 2005


uncle harold: They fixed full size posters along the tunnel walls, which would act as a flip book when the train would travel at full speed.

Very cool. I was looking at the black tunnel walls in the Vienna subway system two days ago and had the exact same "flip book" idea.
posted by syzygy at 9:01 AM on November 5, 2005


Didn't I see Bruce Willis trash one of these projectors in a film once?
posted by klaatu at 9:07 AM on November 5, 2005


I must admit being a bit surprised that they could fit a computer, a projector and the power source for both in a small suitcase.
posted by rongorongo at 9:35 AM on November 5, 2005


Willy Wonka anyone?
posted by atomicmedia at 9:46 AM on November 5, 2005


Advertisers already do this. I saw a Honda ad using this concept in Chicago early last month. I've been told that Nike has had ads as well.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:49 AM on November 5, 2005


Also I really wish I had the funds to risk losing 3000 euro worth of equipment in a subway tunnel.

I just wouldn't trust suction cups that much, when they can't even reliably hold up a shaving mirror.
posted by Foosnark at 9:58 AM on November 5, 2005


I've seen flip-book-style ads a couple times on the T going from Harvard to Central Square, the first a couple years ago. One was for Target. It was annoyingly cheery.
posted by A dead Quaker at 10:01 AM on November 5, 2005


Also I really wish I had the funds to risk losing 3000 euro worth of equipment in a subway tunnel.

I'm really looking forward to this.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2005


What I wonder is how he managed to remove the briefcase from the side of the train as quickly as depicted in the time-lapse sequence at the end.
posted by sindark at 10:37 AM on November 5, 2005


Didn't I see Bruce Willis trash one of these projectors in a film once?

Yeah, him and Sam Jackson are really anti-public art. Oh, and anti-German.
posted by thanatogenous at 10:41 AM on November 5, 2005


very, very cool.
posted by josephtate at 10:50 AM on November 5, 2005


Chicago's el (the subway parts) have the flipbooks too. The first time I saw one I thought I was losing my mind. VERY confusing.

Also--I noticed that the window on the subway car is open which seems really strange to me. I think subway cars should be as sealed as possible to keep out all the weird badness of the tunnels and stations.
posted by Jesse H Christ at 10:55 AM on November 5, 2005


nice idea and execution.
and I also love how fearmongering we are.
while I sure as hell would ask someone what the frak they're doing affixing a box to the side of my train, that's not been the M.O. of a terrorist.
posted by Busithoth at 11:00 AM on November 5, 2005


should have used any handheld video player with video out. MUCH smaller.

...still, cool imagery.
posted by tomplus2 at 11:07 AM on November 5, 2005


while I sure as hell would ask someone what the frak they're doing affixing a box to the side of my train, that's not been the M.O. of a terrorist.

Flying jumbo jets into the sides of buildings didn't used to be the M.O. of hijackers either. I wonder how many people actually asked what the heck that they were up to, rather than merely casting them a suspicious glance. There's nothing wrong with a little engagement of your fellow human beings, even if there's a kernel of fear motivating it.
posted by robla at 11:51 AM on November 5, 2005


I've seen those suction cup handles in work and they're extremely strong. Check out this site and you'll see the model he used can hold up to 66lb. A flip switch quickly attaches and detaches hence the ease to remove the case from the train.
posted by movilla at 12:25 PM on November 5, 2005


If you're short a suitcase and suction thingy, you could always toss everything in a backpack, and just press the projector up against the window. I imagine it would look ok, even with some reflection.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 12:57 PM on November 5, 2005


what uncle harold said.
posted by nola at 1:16 PM on November 5, 2005


They fixed full size posters along the tunnel walls, which would act as a flip book when the train would travel at full speed.

Apparently hey're planning on doing something like that for the BART system. I read this a while back but haven't heard anything since...
posted by brundlefly at 1:17 PM on November 5, 2005


while I sure as hell would ask someone what the frak they're doing affixing a box to the side of my train, that's not been the M.O. of a terrorist.

Heh, that's what I thought too.

But I'm amazed no one thought that the reason they "got away with this" is because they did in fact get permission to do it. I don't see how else it would have been possible.
posted by funambulist at 1:19 PM on November 5, 2005


Duh.

funambulist wins.
posted by uncle harold at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2005


There's no way they got permission to do it. Where were the cops and metro officials standing by to supervise? Why did they have to radio ahead to let the pickup guy know that the box was about to reach him, and why did he exit the station immediately upon removing it? And why were both the placement and removal of the box done so quickly and gracefully?
posted by bingo at 1:52 PM on November 5, 2005


It is interesting. But I think the music makes it more interesting.
posted by jmccorm at 1:57 PM on November 5, 2005


The obvious reason why no one said anything is that — as evidenced by the fact that there is a picture and film on the Internet — someone or many other someones were standing nearby filming.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 2:13 PM on November 5, 2005


And why were both the placement and removal of the box done so quickly and gracefully?

Well, it was on a train, at pause in a station, but soon enough departing.
As for the graceful part, eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Robla, you're wrong about the aircraft missle. Project Bojinka, anyone?

The idea also occured to Bush and Co., while in Italy, when a threat came of crashing an airliner into the meeting.
I'm also not saying I'd take solace in M.O. predictability.
posted by Busithoth at 3:05 PM on November 5, 2005


That is so damn cool. Thank you for this post. I would love to see something like this done in NYC (with permission, of course of the authorities, at least so no one gets arrested).

That one thing I don't quite get: how visible can this be from inside a bright subway car?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:42 PM on November 5, 2005


bingo, it's not a secret operation, it's a nice fun project done by art students in a class in a Berlin university, I don't see how the subway company could be against that.

There's no need for cops standing nearby but that doesn't mean the students didn't notify the subway company and get permission (and probably get the suitcases inspected by their own staff beforehand too). Someone attaching a metal suitcase to the carriage, do you think staff or security cameras would not have spotted that?

If they had just improvised it without telling anyone, they would have likely risked getting in trouble afterwards, and their university too.

Just guessing, of course, I can't know for sure, but this is a university project, not graffiti, it doesn't look like subversiveness and getting arrested was part of the plan. If it had been, they would have made a point of showing that too.

Why the quick removal? because a subway stop is quick!
posted by funambulist at 3:43 PM on November 5, 2005


Nice post, thanks. I bet IshmaelGraves has it, with a photographer there making a show of recording events it might look like they were making a commercial or something. I like how the black&white wall imagery is intercut with color shots of people inside viewing the outside and the icy demons' work seems a great choice as well.
posted by scheptech at 3:49 PM on November 5, 2005


I think those are industrial window washer suction cups.
posted by mecran01 at 4:06 PM on November 5, 2005


Very dope indeed. I was wondering where Honda was doing that in Chicago LunaLuagna? Never heard of that. I think it could be neat to do on a side of a car and then drive around some warehouse district or something!
posted by flowfeel at 4:15 PM on November 5, 2005


yes, very sweet stuff, thanks!
posted by mr.marx at 4:28 PM on November 5, 2005


I first thought maybe they got permission, also. But then I thought -- there's really no way the subway authority would give permission. If the suction failed, you'd have a pretty big hunk of metal on the tracks. I know the chances of anything bad happening are low, but, still, I don't think the subway authority would take a risk like that.

And it's not like the German infrastructre authorities are known for their free-wheeling ways.
posted by Mid at 4:39 PM on November 5, 2005


what Mid said. It doesn't add up, given that they are students. It would take some SERIOUS backing to get subway officials to go along with it, even in volksland.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 5:04 PM on November 5, 2005



If they had just improvised it without telling anyone, they would have likely risked getting in trouble afterwards, and their university too.


Yeah, well, that's the way of such things. Art students who have an idea like 'let's mount a projector on the side of the subway' are usually more interested in making it happen than getting permission, and those are often mutually exclusive categories. If you ask, you give the authority a chance to say no, and then they'll watch you, and then if you do it anyway, it's twice as bad.

...it's a nice fun project done by art students in a class in a Berlin university, I don't see how the subway company could be against that.

The 'subway company,' which is probably owned by the goverment, has no reason to give a shit about some university art project. If they are like most other public transit authorities, they probably put a lot of effort into maintaining their image already, and they don't need to mess with an event that could a) freak people out b) cause damage, c) set a precedent for people attaching stuff to the subway. In New York, as others have said, you would definitely be shot trying to do this; asking for permission to do it would probably get you investigated. Berlin is not New York, but all major cities have got to be a bit touchy about the subways these days.

...this is a university project, not graffiti, it doesn't look like subversiveness and getting arrested was part of the plan. If it had been, they would have made a point of showing that too.

The fact (if it is a fact; I think it is) of the act being illegal, or at least being unapproved, does not mean that the participants wanted to get arrested. Yes, they posted it online, and in theory the cops could now bust down their doors, but once you have safely accomplished an arguably illegal act and are getting accolades for it, the police are not as motivated to pursue you as they are if they catch you in the act itself.

I'm not disparaging the experiment, BTW; I think it's very cool.
posted by bingo at 5:28 PM on November 5, 2005


bingo, i don't think anyone was worried about what would happen to them after they'd got away with it and put it online.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 5:37 PM on November 5, 2005


"yah, conductor? just wondering... did you see a guy attaching a giant metal case to the side of the train, and then walking away?"

i like pranksterism and public art, but not when the delight/disregard ratio is skewed so far as to make people fear for their lives...
posted by cgs at 5:59 PM on November 5, 2005


Good thing we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, huh?
posted by crunchland at 6:14 PM on November 5, 2005


I also doubt they asked permission. I'll bet they thought the risk gave them an opportunity to make a social statement about public paranoia. Having seen this beautiful installation, you must question your first reaction that anything some stranger attaches to a train must be a bomb. You exit trusting people more.

That said, I don't think they were very successful in making me second guess myself. I'm a HUGE opponent of manufactured fear and false "security measures", but even I think this was unnescessarily creepy.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:17 PM on November 5, 2005


I'd personally be worried that the suitcase would be swiped off by a support beam somewhere down the line. Some spots are pretty tight for those trains - I wouldn't trust sticking something that bulky on the side.

Other than that - it was awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 7:27 PM on November 5, 2005


Ok bingo, you may be right, I really don't know, but I still say they got permission. Anyway, I've emailed the question to the students, so, if they reply, the mystery will be solved.

Want to place a bet? How do virtual bets work?
posted by funambulist at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2005


I'm a HUGE opponent of manufactured fear and false "security measures", but even I think this was unnescessarily creepy.

See, if others here had not pointed that out, I wouldn't even have thought about that looking like something scary.

I mean, come on, attaching a shiny suitcase to the carriage side in front of everyone, with another guy filming the scene right there, rather than easily and quietly leaving it inside the carriage without even being noticed. I don't see how anyone could think it was a bomb. They most likely thought "wtf is that guy doing? and why are they filming it? and oh what will they think of next!".
posted by funambulist at 7:55 PM on November 5, 2005


funambulist: I sincerely wish that were my first reaction too. I hate that I'm trusting people less as I age. Maybe I was too hasty evaluating that aspect of this project.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:15 PM on November 5, 2005


The guy totally looks like Deiter, from those old SNL skits with mike Myers.

Also, the terrorism angle didn't even enter my mind until I read this thread.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 PM on November 5, 2005


Next up.... people attaching threatening sounds to the exterior of trains, and filming the art response from the inside!
posted by jmccorm at 10:41 PM on November 5, 2005


Willy Wonka anyone?

That was my thought exactly. That would just wig the shit out of people (uh...who've seen the original movie.) Even moreso if the conductor started singing. "We don't know where we're going...or where the river's flowing..."

Sweetness.
posted by graventy at 5:16 PM on November 6, 2005


"Willy Wonka anyone?"

Is this a reference to the new WW, or the original?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:39 PM on November 6, 2005


Is this an actual project, or just a grand visualization of what such a project would look like? I mean, yes, I saw the comprised-of-mostly-stills movie, but it was rather inconclusive.

Like, where -are- those suction cups we're all discussing?

Certainly that would go a long way to explain the "lets put a bomblookingthing on the side of the carriage as it takes off". I'd first seen this hooked over at WMMNA and figured it was like a lot of the other design stuff there and just high-concept.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:49 PM on November 7, 2005


The original, Paris. I don't think the new one had the scary tunnel ride on the paddleboat.
posted by odinsdream at 5:10 PM on November 8, 2005


I don't think you'd get shot for doing this in New York.

I'd recommend disguising yourselves as a group of young drunk filmmakers, and attaching it to the 3 or 5 at 138th or the J or Z somewhere just shy of Jamaica Center, at about 3am. Put it on the back car, and have a "receiving" group to snag it, a few stops down.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:06 PM on November 27, 2005


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