thought train

date 2017
location wynscreen, wynyard station, sydney cbd
medium moving image animation, led
dimensions 23m x 3m led screen
photographer ian hobbs and sam james
collection artist and transport for nsw

We won’t take money, we’ll live off honey, when the train goes underground … Kasey Chambers

about the work

Thought Train is an animated series of messages – silent whispers passing through time. The pulsing messages move from clearly representational to abstract coded patterns in a metaphorical representation of the way we articulate unconnected thoughts in relationship to travel or moving. Experienced by travellers transiting Wynyard Station, Thought Train broadly references the thematic platforms of Time, Travel and Place in a series of interconnected sequences leading from one thought to another, creating an endless loop.

Wynscreen is a 23-metre wide curved LED screen showing a constantly changing series of moving images created by Australian sound and installation artists using contemporary digital technology in their art practices. Situated within Wynard Walk at the Clarence Street Entrance to Wynard Station, Wynscreen is the first major immersive public art project commissioned by Transport for NSW in conjunction with Cultural Capital.

Thought Train comprises eighteen unique sequences that flow between black text on white background to white text on black. Each sequence transitions from text to an interstitial, small breaks or gaps in the continuous thought train. Existing as irregularly timed breaks in time, as liminal zones or mantra-like states.

At any one time the work can simply be experienced as a series of fragments captured, or, as most of the passers-by will be regulars, a conclusion may be found or the work pieced together, unfolding over many visits. There is no beginning or end only the transitory.

artist statement

Exploring a whisper travelling through space; the response of the text upon an imaginary surface; excessive compression and overlay in an attempt to create a solid; a steamy surface works as meme, propagating the surface with dream-like historical memories.

The artwork offers an elegant visual experience, which seamlessly integrates into the body of the space—a heartbeat within wall. The messages are drawn from songs, eavesdropping, train names, one side of a phone conversation and oblique questions. At times the words collect in a meaningful order almost list-like then the next grouping shifts back to a poetic earworm. Individual random thoughts connect; they gather momentum becoming a thought train in a collective brain. Looking for a delicate balance between too much and too little, between understanding and confusion, between a need to know and uncertainty. What are the thoughts going through any one individual mind as it transits through the tunnel at Wynyard?


Ian Hobbs, Collaborator, Programming, After Effects, Videography Alessio Cavallaro, Consultant Curatorial Director Hai Tran, Project Technical Director Amanda Jelicich-Kane, Project Manager at Cultural Capital Transport for NSW team Cultural Capital team Liz O’Reily Studio Assistance

Special thanks to Paul Kelly, Kasey Chambers, Missy Higgins and Martin Armiger for permission to use song lyrics

Thought Train - credits  (photo by Sam James)