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The G Train 

A video installation makes connections between time, space and public transportation.

click to enlarge The video installation explores public transit. - JEFF FERGUSON
  • Jeff Ferguson
  • The video installation explores public transit.

The white box gallery smells like plywood. Inside, an obtrusive skeleton frame made of wood and nuts and bolts takes on the shape of a subway car.

The car is coated with graffiti and garbage. Drawings of zombies and cats find space next to the lyrics “The words of the prophets are written on the subway wall.”

On one end of the car is a map of the New York City subway system. On the other, video footage projects scenes of narrow red brick buildings and dilapidated houses, garbage cans, McDonald’s, mud puddles, parks, car-lined sidewalks and mothers and daughters holding hands.

“This isn’t the New York that people necessarily see,” says digital artist Jenny Hyde. “It’s not the romantic New York, the one in movies or television shows.”

Hyde is an art professor at Eastern Washington University. She was inspired to create the video installation titled “The G Train Project” while living in Brooklyn. She’ll speak about the experience at 11:30 am on March 8 during the exhibit’s closing reception.

“The G Train Project” is a 36-minute video that captures the G Train from its first stop in Brooklyn to its final stop in Queens.
Hyde walked the subway route above-ground — exactly 10 miles — with a hand-held video camera and spliced the video footage with audio from the actual subway.

The train itself — although a minimalist, almost crude structure — has taken on a life of its own. With encouragement from Hyde, students have tagged the train and eaten lunch in the space all in the “spirit of public transportation.”

Hyde says her goal was to make a poetic connection between time and the elements of nature, urban landscape, and the cultural journey of riding a train.

“I tried to record the entire experience but not in a literal way,” Hyde says. “It’s the idea of having evidence of something.

“There’s something important about that process, trying to capture the moment and the connection between the recordings and the action that happened.”

The subway’s perpetual motion — the jarring squeal of breaks and the thunderous sound of wheels on train tracks — serves as a reminder that New York is alive both above and below ground.

“The G Train Project” by Jenny Hyde • On display March 1-8 • Closing lecture and reception: March 8 at 11:30 am • SFCC Fine Arts Gallery • 3410 W. Fort George Wright Dr. •533-3746 • sfccfinearts.org/gallery

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