For many years, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem has been attempting to bring his project, Subway Symphony, to our mass transit system. His goal is to bring a welcoming tone to the turnstiles, which would replace the current one you hear when you swipe your MetroCard. During rush hour, Murphy says, the turnstile area of any station would become a beautiful symphony if his tones were used. It does sound pretty nice.
Murphy's latest attempt to make this happen comes with help from Heineken, which has made a video announcement with Murphy, to be released soon. We were recently shown a rough cut of the video, and during it
Murphy a voiceover explains, "It's not just an art project, it would create a better more intuitive experience for the deaf and visually impaired. So this summer after 20 years of failing to get it off the ground, we're going to try with Heineken to get to the right people, and get Subway Symphony into its first station. These turnstiles have to change with the new tap and ride, and they have to make a sound... they might as well sound beautiful." But can it happen? The MTA has not been on board since the beginning, so we reached out to see if they've changed their tune.
The MTA's Adam Lisberg told us this week: "We have heard from him, and as we've told him many times, we cannot do it. The tones are an ADA element for the visually impaired, and we won't mess with them—much less take turnstiles out of service and risk disabling them for an art project. (It would be a very cool project, don't get me wrong, but we can't mess with turnstiles that handle 6 million customers a day for it.)"
If you think we're spoiling the outcome for Murphy, don't worry, Lisberg added that, "As a condition of filming in the subway, we made them acknowledge that we can't and won't do it."
UPDATE: Here's the finished video...