Uptown Underground projects a geographically accurate view of the cityscape above a moving subway car onto its ceiling as it moves under New York City. The intervention has been installed regularly, without permission, on a series of moving subway wagons along New York City’s 6 Line from Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall to 96th Street stations, a roughly 6 mile/25-minute loop along the East Side of Manhattan.
Uptown Underground offers a new and dynamic means through which to reconnect with and feel grounded within the city by imagining seeing through the ceiling of the subway car to the street.The project takes inspiration from the glass-bottom boat, where access is granted to the reeds, the fish, and the dark depths normally inaccessible; in a literal reversal, here access is granted upwards, to skyscrapers, trees, and the occasional flock of pigeons. Through this, Uptown Underground aims to create a technology-positive interaction with the sole intention of augmenting urban experience.
Design + Execution
Uptown Underground is implemented with four Raspberry Pi single-board computers, each connected to a 4K mini projector and a battery. The window to install the project is only some seventy-five seconds, while a train reverses directions between stations, empty. All aspects of the project were designed for this, through expedience in and fluidity of installation (and, since the intervention has never received formal permission, deinstallation). Four units cover the entire ceiling of a train wagon, two to a single clamp arm attached to a handrail post.
The installation runs itself, adjusting in concert with the movements of the train in order to remain in synchronization with the world above.
Ian Callender (photography, videography)
Daniel Ornitz (videography, direction, production)
Scot Zaretsky(videography, direction)
Marcus Odom (cinematography, editing)
Matthew Lesko (videography, editing)