SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from Civic Center Station, San Francisco, to Berkeley Station, Berkeley

Peter D'Agostino, Coming and Going: BART (15th July 1978)



The general public and art community were invited to ride the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) from San Francisco’s Civic Centre to the Berkeley Station. The basic structure of the event encompassed the everyday experiences of the BART commuter: buying a ticket, waiting on the platform, boarding and exiting on the train, etc. Within this context, the broader framework of BART was investigated, from the inner workings of the system to the outside environment that parallels the underground route of the train. Functioning like an “installation-in-motion,” observer-participants carry portable video equipment with three TV monitors intermingled with other passengers traveling to Berkeley. Carried like luggage, these monitors displayed videotapes which provided passengers with access to several layers of images and information related to the BART experience, including: An automated ticket machine rejecting dollars as commuters attempt to buy tickets. A car drive from Berkeley to San Francisco, crossing the Bay Bridge while the train travels in the tube beneath the bay. A scene from the master control room shows the progress of the trains through the system, and the surveillance of passengers entering and exiting the stations. A series of personal messages programmed on BART’s electronic sign system. These signs are used to announce train arrivals and destinations, display the time of day, and are usually programmed by intermittent advertising.[...] My primary concern was the social activity itself and re-contextualizing this experience for the BART passengers. Keeping the theatricality of the event to a minimum was necessary to emphasize the work as experience rather than spectacle. (D’Agostino in Phillips 2008: 80)

Comings and goings represents a body of work concerning mass transportation and communication systems […] Within the context of a dialectical process, coming and going reflects my interest in the juxtaposition of personal and cultural codes of perception, language, structure, and ideology. (D’Agostino in Phillips 2008: 78)