Dec 8, 2010

Experiments in Applied Reporting

Rosa Valado of Woven Spaces curated a great show in Greenpoint last month, Golden Blueprints: Grids, Blocks, Charts and Graphs, that displayed imaginative visions of North Brooklyn by local artists, hosted by the publisher of Williamsburg Greenpoint Art + News, Genia Gould, at the WG Gallery. I showed documentation of some of the projects I've participated in as an advocate and producer in the past year. Above is a slide show I created for the digital installation. It argues for an expanded role for reporters as cultural producers in response to changes in print and digital media, applying journalistic techniques to pragmatic activities in order to influence issues being reported on. The practice of applied reporting raises questions of conflict of interest that I will discuss in another place, but for now I'm posting this visual representation of how these different activities embody an engaged practice of urbanist reporting.

I met Valado through Ethan Pettit, an urbanist with a long history in North Brooklyn who used to be a co-director with me at the Collective: Unconscious performance space on Ludlow Street in the late Nineties. Pettit showed drawings of the land mass between the East River and the Newtown Creek-- the shipping canal was recently designated a Superfund site by the federal government and the area just received a $25 million community benefits package from Exxon Mobil as compensation for the massive decades-old underground oil spill. In one drawing, a statue of a Romantic figure inspired by Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Fog stands in a grandiose public plaza overlooking a view of the landscape from above, as if surveying it from the point of view of a helicopter, or maybe a massive skyscraper in Sunnyside, Queens. The absence of 20- and 30-story high-rises zoned for the waterfront in the piece--as in all of the works in the show--only defers the question of how the city will accommodate the million residents projected to arrive in the next decade, but I love the big gesture.