subway skylights
                                in collaboration with Maya Gorton and Vardit Gross
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subway skylights video

subway cars should have sunroofs

Subway Skylights is a proposed installation for underground trains that gives passengers virtual windows onto the street above them. Flat-panel monitors (masquerading as skylights) are mounted on the ceilings of subway cars. They display computer controlled digital video of the scene on the surface above the subway tunnels. The computer evaluates the position and speed of the train and controls the playback rate of the digital video footage. Wherever the subway is underground - no matter if the train is moving fast or slow or at a standstill - the scene on the surface directly above the train can always be observed. Riders can experience the world above ground as if they were looking through a window on the ceiling and seeing right through the top of the subway tunnel.

Underground trains are one of the most important forms of mass transportation in urban life. And although the subway affords us with a quick and efficient journey, in doing so it deprives us of our sense of place. When we are above ground, the subway is invisible. When we are riding it, our world is invisible. We are transported, but are not informed about the city that is speeding past above our heads. You could spend your entire life commuting between the neighborhood in which you live and your job downtown and never be aware of what is in between. Subway Skylights seeks to mend this separation of travel-time from travel-space.

The interactive prototype of the installation consists of an enclosure with a large video screen on the ceiling that displays footage of the street above an actual subway line in New York City. A control lever, by governing the frame rate and direction of the digital video playback, allows visitors to simulate the experience of driving the train and looking through the skylight. A real-time digital map indicates where the simulated train is along its route as visitors drive it back and forth between stations.

interactive prototype
Bronze Prize - I.D. Magazine
Subway Skylights was awarded "Bronze" in I.D. Magazine's Interactive Design Review (June 2001)
article in Spectrum Magazine
Subway Skylights appeared in an article titled Electronic Realism, in IEEE Spectrum Magazine.