News of a film installation to be unveiled at Rayners Lane and Sudbury Town stations shortly alerted us to the fact that TfL's jolly and diverse Platform for Art programme had undergone a rebrand and will be relaunching as Art on the Underground at the end of this month.
There's not much in a name, of course, but always fans of wordplay and puns we rather liked "Platform for Art". However, TfL has opted for the more straightforward moniker inextricably anchoring the programme to sub-street level transport and embracing some rather attractive retro art deco typography at the same time. The name change also coincides with the publication of a book surveying the programme's artistic output to date and growing diversity and success.
Which leads us back to the film commission. To highlight another couple of stops on the Thin Cities celebration of 100 years of the Piccadilly line, artist Stephen Willats has produced 3 films to be shown in tryptich in disused station kiosks. Titled "Assumptions and Presumptions" the films address the flow of passengers in and out of the stations and on their journey, using the same actors over and over again, yet varying their behaviour and appearance to highlight the many judgments people make about each other on their daily commute. You know, while you're pretending to read the Metro.
It's innovative commissions like this, the panda's head at Gloucester Road and the entire tube train wrapped in orange geometrics this summer that makes us think TfL is one of very few bodies getting 'public art' right. If stuff like this can help crack the expressionless and isolated commuter mask we tend to wear down there and make us think, and even smile sometimes, it's money well spent.
Image of the Gloucester Road panda's head installation "LIfe is a Laugh" by Brian Griffiths courtesy of wokka's Flickrstream.