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Museum of Science and Industry presents HeHe M-Blem. the train project

The Arts Catalyst in collaboration with Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival presents M-blem: the train project, a new participatory commission by international public art interventionists HeHe, on 29 August–1 September 2012. The project commemorates the birthplace of the world’s first recognizable modern railway—the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (L&MR), a twin-track intercity public transport system which opened in the autumn of 1830.

HeHe’s artists’ impression of M:blem: the train project for Manchester created by HeHe, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and AND Festival 2012.

HeHe (Heiko Hansen and Helen Evans) are creating a new autonomous vehicle to run on the tracks at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) housed in the buildings of the former Liverpool Road Station for the AND Festival. Open daily from 29 August until 1 September; audiences will be welcomed through the historic L&MR station entrance on Liverpool Road each evening during the festival (please visit for booking details).

Inspired by AB Clayton’s painting of the inaugural journey of the L&MR, which illustrates a series of small open-topped passenger carriages on the track outside Liverpool Road station, HeHe will run their vehicle M-blem: the train project on the historic track. In a project mixing past and future, the artists will present their mobile, light-weight, electric wheel-set along with solar charging stations, platform signs and passenger vehicle referencing the original carriages but using modern materials.

The artist duo have been working on the ‘Train Project’ for a number of years, criticising the car as the only option for autonomous transport and proposing personal rail travel as a temporary, imaginary prototype tackling the problem of locomotion as a starting point. The notion of personal rail travel has been explored as an alternative to collective transportation since the 1930s, when influential theorists like Bruno Latour reflected on the failure of Aramis (Agencement en Rames Automatisées de Modules Indépendants dans les Stations), France’s ambitious attempt to develop a personal rapid transit system.

The ‘Train Project’ has seen HeHe develop temporary autonomous vehicles in the form of performances on unused or abandoned rail tracks. M-blem: the train project follows interventions in Istanbul with Tapis Volant, a battery-powered flying carpet, H Line on New York’s abandoned High-Line and Metronome on the Petite Ceinture, encircling Paris.

HeHe’s socially-conscious public art interventions are celebrated across the globe, from Nuage Vert, where factory emissions were highlighted with interactive laser light to Is there a Horizon in the Deepwater? a miniaturised global disaster scenario satirising popular responses to ecological issues. Their Toy Emissions video also lampooned the American SUV.

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