A few hours ago, Russia's Department of Transportation and Transport Infrastructure Development released some interior photos of a limited-run subway car.

This aesthetically disruptive takeover features photographs of the Siberian Tiger and the Amur Leopard, both endangered species, juxtaposed into a nature motif. It spills over the entire interior, complete with tiled autumnal foliage floors, forest sky ceilings and some sort of blue design, possibly a waterfall. It kind of looks like lasers. According to the deputy director of the Moscow subway system, Yuriy Degtyarev, the "Striped Express" launch will be "a notable part of a government program to save these rare breeds of animals." We lack the words to describe this hot visual mess. The tiled website-background-like patterns and harsh, unrealistic Photoshopping seem to suggest a playful digital art influence, but the irony and humor are probably presumptious on our part. 

We reached out to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a gallerist specializing in emerging art and other experts for attempted commentary.

Adam Lisberg

Director of External Communications, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority

That's, um, fascinating, but we try to never comment on other transit agencies' plans, in hopes that they'll do the same for us! Appreciate your thinking of us though. (Though I should point out that the 42nd Street Shuttle train is routinely wrapped inside and out for advertising promotions.)


Kelani Nichole

Director of TRANSFER gallery,  digital product strategist and researcher

I don't hate the idea. I think the covering of all surfaces all around the viewer is interesting. It could have some kind of VR effect I suppose, surrounding the viewer. But, yeah, the content is awful.

I think it's a stretch to say it's influenced by the art in that genre, but I can see the influence of the way we consider and see surfaces, definitely shaped by internet paradigms. It 'fills' space the same way we fill planes in a browser-based way of looking at the world: planes/surfaces, edge-to-edge, wrapping objects with imagery... This is a way of looking at the world that 3D modeling has opened up: the objects surface/shape vs. its texture/pattern. We just get that now, in a way we maybe didn't before.

Bucky Turco

Ratter.com contributor, creative consultant

The ads are jarring and a fantastic assault on the eyes, but they make me want to save the humans who are forced to ride those trains more than the leopards and tigers in the disco forest.


Benjamin Palmer

Chairman and Co-founder of The Barbarian Group creative agency

Well, at first glance the floor of that train looks like pizza, in my professional opinion. It kind of looks like you are being surrounded by predators. It feels really claustrophobic and a little scary, like you are going to be attacked by tigers.

Hrag Vartanian

Editor-in-chief and co-founder of the arts blog Hyperallergic

It's the kind of kitsch one would expect from a dollar store. It combines tired stereotypes with the visual warmth of someone's testosterone-infused man cave. I'm concerned that this type of [advertising] can potentially be used to promote a dangerous nationalist agenda. I can only imagine how many flags and images promoting "traditional families" — not to mention other propaganda — the government may impose on commuters during times of crisis, like wars and annexations. Unlike other types of advertising, billboards and these types of immersive spaces force people to look at them and as a result they deeply impact our psyches. This isn't an ad on tv, on the internet, or in a magazine, where you can simply turn it off or turn the page.