Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cultural Engineering: Desire Lines

The second issue of SAW Video’s Cultural Engineering project is online, appearing moments before the construction hoarding is scheduled to go up and the first stage of the physical transformation at Arts Court begins. Meredith Snider and Timothy I. Smith have each produced another installment in their ongoing investigation of the redevelopment process, and guest artist Rachel Kalpana James makes a unique contribution to the latest edition. 

Rachel Kalpana James, Meditations on Cultural Engineering, 2015. digital video

In the process of responding to the Arts Court redevelopment, the artists have added to a broader understanding of what the phrase “cultural engineering” might mean. If it is understood as a method of planning to increase public participation in cultural life, then one would hope for every success in the cultural engineering of Ottawa’s Arts Court. An analogy for a sympathetic type of cultural engineering might be found in the way that some urban planners take into account how people actually use public space before they lay down pathways. These paths can be guided by the “desire lines” cut into the earth by pedestrian traffic. Now that change is underway at Arts Court, the interventions of the artists in the Cultural Engineering project can be considered to be making visible the desire lines within the overarching redevelopment. Link to the second issue here.