In What’s the Meaning of This?, we explain what those weird public-art installations you walk by every day are supposed to represent. In this edition: An interactive mystery video series gives TTC riders something to ponder on their daily commute.
Name of installation: Murder in Passing
Artist: John Greyson
Location: On Pattison Onestop screens throughout the TTC network.
Date of display: To March 1
What’s it supposed to be?: Within the past few years, it’s become commonplace to see public art works (typically in video and poster form) spread throughout the TTC network, appearing on the Pattison Onestop screens at stations, and on subway platform spaces typically reserved for advertisements. And while past “exhibits,” like the Toronto Underground Film Festival, have been ambitious in their own right, the most recent underground project, Murder in Passing is undoubtedly the most grandiose in scale and concept. Written and directed by filmmaker John Greyson, Murder in Passing consists of 42 half-minute films. A new film clip is played each day (and every 10 minutes) on the Pattison Onestop network, which, throughout the course of the next few weeks will uncover the circumstances of a whodunit murder mystery.
The plot of the series, fashioned in the film-noir genre, centres on Detective Epicene (played by Alexander Chapman) as she investigates the murder of a transgender bike courier who’s been run down by an SUV in the fictional city of Passing, B.C. Along the way, she encounters resistance from a sleazy CEO, an anti-bike mayor, a chemistry professor, and a troubled train conductor, among others. True to the whodunit formula, subplots and misdirection abound. However, Greyson has done more than just make a film for entertainment’s sake; he’s taken this opportunity to engage with the public on an important social issue.
“The film project was a chance for us to explore what’s been happening throughout North America [with respect to cyclists killed by cars], and that’s something that’s prevalent in the minds of anyone in Toronto who rides a bike,” says Greyson, whose series also explores transgendered and environmental issues.
Initially envisioned five years ago, Murder in Passing was shot over six days in late October of last year. And while the clips are first and foremost aimed at commuters on the TTC network, Greyson and Art for Commuters founder Sharon Switzer (who first came up with the concept of a multi week film project) realize that it’s nigh impossible to keep track of a complex series in the midst of a busy commute.
“We know that the reality of the experience means that, throughout the week, people are missing episodes, so the hope is that they’ll be intrigued by videos, then head to the website to catch up on anything they might have missed,” Greyson says.
There’s even the chance for interested viewers—aided by clues on Twitter, and on the film’s blog—to engage in the process and become amateur detectives by entering a contest to guess the murderer online, with the chance to win theatre tickets, magazine subscriptions, and more. On until the beginning of March, the series is just over halfway done, meaning there’s still plenty of time to find your inner sleuth.