The wrap of Art Train Conductor No. 9 is designed to attract attention from office towers and across the country-side. Photo / No. 9
On Wednesday, Toronto commuters jumped aboard an unexpectedly technicolour train on their way to work.
Canada’s newest ‘art train’ – the Art Train Conductor No. 9
– is a train car emblazoned with enough zig-zags and paint splashes to pry open the lids of any sleepy nine-to-fiver.
The Art Train, which uses a specially-designed app to engage passengers in environmental issues, is a collaborative work between Toronto’s Go Transit network and a Toronto-based arts organisation, No. 9 Contemporary Art and the Environment
For five months, the train will run an expanding circuit of the Go Transit Greater Toronto and Hamilton area networks. During the first week of its run, No. 9 conductors – attired in zig-zag patterned jumpsuits – will assist passengers in becoming acquainted with the carriage and the specially-designed app, tetAtet
The app will feature weekly video clips, which will interview a range of people from both the Toronto area and beyond on environmental issues, including author Margaret Atwood, civil engineering professor Eric Millar and local NGOs. Passengers are then encouraged to respond with their own ideas and strategies, which will be submitted to Go Transit.
The app, which was developed in collaboration with PhD students at the University of Toronto’s Knowledge Media Design Institute, also allows passengers to interact and debate among themselves through an integrated feed on Twitter.
Multi-disciplinary artists Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins were commissioned to transform the train with their vibrant designs, which No. 9 describes
as referencing "camouflage in the natural world, as well as camouflage in the historical military sense", and alluding to "the role that pattern and abstraction play as a form of protecting, hiding, and cloaking explicit reality".
No. 9 Contemporary Art and the Environment connects with schools and the public via art, encouraging people to creatively think about, discuss, and develop sustainable solutions to environmental issues.
Artist Daniel Borins told The Toronto Star
that the visibility of the train will also bring art to a wider audience.
"This art is not stuck in a museum … it’s moving through the community and even momentarily altering the landscape," Borins told The Star
. "It will be noticed."