John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
All aboard the Math Homework Express!
This would be one subway train that Triangle and Robert would love to ride. Built out of triangles, circles and (gasp!) rhomboids, it races toward its final destination while continually breaking into shards and reassembling itself like some kind of unkillable Math Homework Express.
"Dynamics of the Subway" was directed by A/V artist Keita Onishi, a graduate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music who's obsessed with the romance of geometric shapes. The monochromatic animation is actually a music video for Haisuinonasa, a math-rock band formed by two brothers from Tokyo. When math rock meets math artist, you know something extra nerdy-cool is going to happen, and in this case Keita and friends do not disappoint.
If you stare at the video long enough, you'll notice that the notes are aligning with sudden jerks and bulges in the shapes. That's because each kind of shape corresponds with an instrument in the song. When the piano tinkles, for instance, its respective geometric twin gives a wiggle. Why this geometric zoo comes together to mimic a speeding subway car is anybody's guess. Maybe Keita has a particularly long train commute to work?
Take a look: