This movie runs thousands of times every day. It's in 3D and sensurround
and it's an entertainment bargain thrown in free with the price of every
subway swipe. The best seating is actually standing at the head or rear
of the train, eyes cupped to the window. The minute the train slides out
of the station you're plunged into a nocturnal ballet of continuously
converging parallel lines of rails, shimmering lights and endless tunnel.
There is an organic musicality in the rhythms of our vast subterranean
labyrinth. The moving train animates everything it passes. Beams and
pillars flicker past giving stations the feel of silent cinema and signal
lights turn colors as they control the train's pace like a conductor's
baton. It's so thrilling out there that I've often wished for an all
glass observation car with dim to dark lighting where the spectacle could
be more immersive. As it is, however, the view is through windows, often
smeary and scratched, and on many lines, through double panes. Sometimes
these aberrations create stunning effects, rainbows of diffraction or
intensely romantic diffusion.
Tunnel Vision is a celebration of these views, edited with a little
poetic mischief and interwoven with an original score by Shay Lynch.
This video was shot almost entirely with an iphone. Initially I'd used a
medium sized video camera, but after two admonishments from policemen
that shooting video was illegal in the subway (It's actually not, as long
as you don't block traffic or trespass and don't use anything like
tripods or lights. At least that's the way I read the regulations.) I
defaulted to my iphone, which rendered my activities relatively invisible
as everyone else in the car was holding a device too.
This film is a sister to a film I made in 1999 about and titled Grand Central.
It was also an impressionistic portrait, but in Grand Central, the
building held still while people marched to and fro. In Tunnel Vision the
people hold still while the buildings, tracks and tunnels march by. Both
films are, at heart, valentines to civic engineering of former centuries.
This Film originally appeared on the New York Times Opinion page.
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?