Friday Fun: Bus Stops Crackle, Swing

Urban hacktivists set up a DIY swing at a bus station in Moscow. Photo by Shriya Malhotra.

In the modern cityscape, the bus stop is dismissed as an object without artistic merit. Ubiquitous and simultaneously invisible -unless a delay forces the commuter’s eye-  few people recognize bus stops as places that can make a meaningful contribution to the enjoyment of urban space. Indeed, bus stops are ideal locations for interactive art; inspired pieces that give patient something to do, other than thumbing through their smart phone, while interacting with their immediate environs.

Installations can be as simple as Fra Biancoshock’s “Antistress for Free”, at a bus shelter in Milan. Biancoshock hung sheets of bubble wrap from the side of the bus shelter, giving frustrated or bored commuters an outlet for mini maestros and those stressed in their trek home. While not the most environmentally sustainable art form, popping bubble wrap is an obvious, if not affordable stress reliever, something especially necessary when waiting for the bus.

A more sustainable example is Bruno Taylor’s installation of swings in bus stops around London in 2008. The swings were a way of “…incorporating incidental play in the public realm by not so much as having separate play equipment that dictates the users but by using existing furniture and architectural elements that indicate playful behaviour for all.”  The video below shows that many Londoners took advantage of the moment to spend some time playing in a space typically reserved for doleful waiting.

Indeed, urban hackers have pioneered do-it-yourself (DIY)  bus stop art that mimicks a child’s (read, big kid’s) playground as the stop above demonstrates. This whimsical swing was set up by creative urban hackers in the Voykovskiy neighborhood of Moscow this past August. We wonder if its utility would hold in the Moscow winter? Indeed, even if installations like these have brief lives, they bring a new perspective to these most ignored spaces in the urban landscape.

 

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