For those of us who rely on the MTA to get to our day jobs, this morning is probably the worst of the worst, and commiserating with fellow straphangers on drafty platforms and sputtering trains is (literally) cold comfort as we collectively brave the blizzard that is pummelling the New York City this morning. We all have our commute rituals—reading the paper, listening to music entirely too loud, making small talk with the tourists, dodging bodies for a handhold; the list goes on. Let's face it, we're not at our best on public transportation.
Here are a couple of projects that transform that at-times dreaded daily routine into a creative exercise. Who knows, you may even be a part of their work without even knowing it.
"How to Pass Time on the Train"
Joe Butcher, an illustrator based in the UK, may have the most productive (and creative) 35-minute trip to work out of all of us. For two years, Butcher has been turning the people around him into cartoon characters with Post-It notes and a few markers while sharing his creations via Twitter. From Mickey Mouse to The Incredible Hulk, it seems that anyone with their back to the artist is a potential candidate.
I can imagine that the exaggerated faces of the cartoons aren't far off from the actual facial expressions of the subjects, which is probably my favorite part of this series. Check out the full collection of drawings here.
Two artists—Alon Chitayat and Jeff Ong—have come up with a way to incorporate their hobbies into a project that brings NYC subway riders closer together. Citayat, who spent his time sketching commuters long before this project came to be, illustrates different people without knowing when they'll get off the train or if they'll notice themselves being drawn. After the drawings are complete, fictional thoughts are tagged to each portrait. The project's website explains how it comes together:
...audio stories were recorded in a stream-of-consciousness style—the author would spend about 30 seconds with an illustration, then speak his/her thoughts in the first person. The stories were then mapped to the illustrated passengers using Max/MSP and the controller helps the user explore the subway car by focusing in on specific characters.
The duo's goal is to "create an intimate experience between the user and the subway, but more importantly between passengers—bridging the gap between the isolating experience of public spaces with the power of stories and reconsidering those ones immediately around us." Check out the video below to see Chitayat and Ong's work in action: