The New Digital Historian :: Brian Kelley’s NYCTA Project
Photography

The New Digital Historian :: Brian Kelley’s NYCTA Project

“Not enough people collect things these days,” says Brian Kelley in his Brooklyn photography studio. Spread across a large table in front of him are hundreds of items from the New York City public transit system. Half a dozen full boxes are also stacked on the floor. In an era where people only seem to be interested in collecting Instagram followers, Kelley has slowly put together a tangible, archival history of NYC’s subway evolution. It’s his prize collection, created wholly for self-interest, and the real New York City Transit Authority doesn’t even know about it—yet. A commercial photographer by trade (staff lensman at HUF Worldwide), Kelley began collecting spent MetroCards he found on the ground and shooting them in various arrangements as studio practice. He realized the subtle variations in the MetroCard—first introduced in 1993—which sparked an interest in acquiring some of the rare ones no longer in circulation; like the New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup victory edition of five from 1994. Next, Kelley got into the maps, commissioned to different graphic design agencies over the decades with continuous additions of new train lines. He now has ticket stubs from the train that used to cross Brooklyn Bridge, uniform […]

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