Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cultural Engineering: Flow Chart

The Cultural Engineering project was launched over two years ago, and each issue has showcased artworks that were commissioned by SAW Video as way to chart the Arts Court redevelopment and document its transformation. Each issue has also offered artists a chance look at the Arts Court from new perspectives. It’s easy to imagine that flow charts were used for project management on this ambitious infrastructure development. If a flow chart is a diagram of the sequence of actions in a complex activity that helps to illustrate a process, then one that traced the course of the Cultural Engineering project in retrospect would undoubtedly reveal a complicated and perhaps contradictory trajectory: one that might double back on itself just as much as it might pursue an oblique angle down an unfinished path. Like all endeavors that are meant to be democratic, Cultural Engineering has been subject to change, depending upon the individuals who have been invited to contribute to it.

Cara Tierney, Melt in. To Spring, digital video, 2017.

Going with the flow of the previous issues of Cultural Engineering, the final online installment features two new videos by Meredith Snider and Timothy Smith, as well as a third video by a guest artist. In her video for this issue, “Culture Lives Where?” Snider poses two questions to people in the vicinity of the Arts Court (“What is culture?” and “Where does culture live?”) and the results are as diverse as the people who participate. In “Past & Present,” Smith animates archival photographs in order to propel the viewer back to the earliest years of the building’s history, capturing the flow of time and offering fascinating glimpses of the transformation of the site, and you might say its political fortunes. The guest artist for the ninth issue, Cara Tierney, connects and mixes several separate events into one powerful montage that suggests positive change is going to come for transgender rights, but only because of persistent pressure. Tierney and the other artists in this issue offer evidence that we can effect change as much as we are affected by it. Link to the ninth issue here.