An art installation beginning this summer will offer MARTA riders waiting on a bus or train the chance to send messages to each other, but not via text or Tweets or Tik Tok. Instead, participants will use their ABCs.
“Railtalk-Re-Connect” by Dutch design collaborators Bouke Bruins and Wouter Corvers is an interactive art installation that provides riders magnetic letters to form messages on metal surfaces. The project begins June 8 and is a joint effort of Flux Projects, Atlanta Design Festival and MARTA Artbound. It concludes during the Atlanta Design Festival set for Oct. 1-9.
The intersection of public art, design, and public transit presents the opportunity to create “unexpected interactions” between travelers and provide entertainment as people wait for trains and buses, said Flux Projects Executive Director Anne Dennington. And it is a way to bring Atlantans together as everyone tries to deal with the struggles of the pandemic in a polarized world.
“During the pandemic, many of us stayed in our neighborhoods and didn’t go out … and there is a feeling that people are wanting to get off their devices and connect,” Dennington said.
Railtalk was in Atlanta in 2019 at two stations where more than 23,000 riders saw the interactive exhibit. About 4,000 people left messages over nine days. This year, the installation will be at seven stations – North Springs, Doraville, Lindbergh Center, West End, College Park, H.E. Holmes and Indian Creek stations – and for five months.
“MARTA stations are amazing public spaces that serve people of all walks of life,” Dennington said. “And this year Railtalk traverses the city, going north, south, east and west. This is really about the city as a city.”
Flux Projects was founded in 2010 to raise the visibility of Atlanta artists by providing public places for them to exhibit their talents. Doing so also brought people together to share an experience as various places in Atlanta – Oakland Cemetery, Ponce City Market or dancers suspended in air and performing vertically on the side of the 725 Ponce building facing the Eastside BeltLine Trail.
The group took two years off from public space projects due to the pandemic. Virtual events were held. The group is ready to return to hosting public art at various spaces throughout Atlanta.
In early fall, conceptual artist and writer Jonathon Keats will introduce the Atlanta River Time project, a new “erosion” clock for the metro area based on the flow of the Chattahoochee River, Peachtree Creek and other local waterways. The exact date is to be determined, but River Time will be held at Browns Mill Village, a Habitat for Humanity affordable housing development in southeast Atlanta.
The project aims to change Atlantans’ perspective on time, the natural environment, and the impact of modern human existence on both.
When people gather to watch an artist at work, the shared experiences can create sacred spaces that hold the beauty and mystery long after an installation or exhibit is gone, Dennington said.
“Our best projects, when we talk of them, are kind of like a church,” she said.
“They are spaces where people can experience the art individually or communally and be moved. And as people come back to public space, art has a way of bringing meaning to those spaces,” she said.
Flux Projects also acknowledges art can just be for fun.
“One of our core principles is ‘art for art’s sake’ and we will always lean into that,” Dennington said. “There are times when we really just need to celebrate.”
For more information, visit fluxprojects.org.