Crossing Non-Signalized Locations*
By Daniel Peltz
*SEC. 11.5 TRAFFIC, PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION REGULATIONS, CITY OF CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
The Cambridge Arts Council, together with the Department of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation, is pleased to present Crossing Non-Signalized Locations, a project by artist Daniel Peltz, Associate Professor of Film/Animation/Video at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Peltz' background in anthropology guides the in-depth study of text, language and dialogue that is central to his work. Crossing Non-Signalized Locations began with a residency with the Cambridge Department of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation in January 2010, during which he shadowed workers and interviewed employees in a variety of roles. He drew the title of his project from section 11.5 of the City's parking regulations, which are set forth in 24 articles with hundreds of sections, such as Persons Propelling Pushcarts or Riding Animals to Obey Traffic Regulations [Sec 3.3] or Use of Coasters, Roller Skates and Similar Devices Restricted [Sec. 3.4]. As Peltz discovered, a close reading of these regulations reveals a certain poetry and perspective on urban space. His interpretation of this document became the base for a broader exploration of the language of the city - the conversations we have on a daily basis, the text we encounter on signage, our interactions with city workers, the official communications that we receive.
The outcome of Peltz' residency is a "suite of four gestures" developed by the artist and enacted by Traffic, Parking and Transportation staff during the first week of September 2010:
1. new street signage, produced and installed by the Traffic division staff at five locations around Cambridge. Though official in appearance, the signs are stripped of their regulatory language, shifting their function from control to poetry. In response to an existing Inman Street sign that reads "If you're reading this sign, You're biking the wrong way," for example, a new sign continues the poem with the phrase "If you're reading this sign, You're reading this sign." Says Peltz, "I consider this part of the project to be very fragile, like a weak pulse that can at times seem to disappear and yet if listened to closely has surprising variation."
2. the launch of a fictional parking regulation authorizing "soft-booting," in which stuffed fabric parking boots will be fabricated at a sewing station in the atrium of the Traffic, Parking and Transportation offices. The boots are based on the original auto-immobilizer designed by Frank Marug, a violinist and pattern maker. This element was produced in collaboration with the Swedish conceptual craft artist Sissi Westerberg.
3. a redesigned parking ticket envelope that introduces a series of yoga postures for giving and receiving parking citations. During his residency, Peltz learned that the aim of the Department of Traffic, Parking and Transportation was to maintain flow in the city, which led him to imagine a more peaceful exchange between Parking Control Officers and drivers being ticketed. This new envelope will be put into circulation and delivered with all parking citations, beginning in September.
4. "10,000 Excuses," a large-scale drawing composed from the archive of electronic parking disputes received by the City. This will be transcribed, by hand, by departmental staff and visitors onto the back wall of the Cambridge Arts Council Gallery at 344 Broadway. The deliberate act of re-writing the anonymous disputes is an opportunity to consider what is revealed in these texts - the culture and habits of city residents and visitors. These elements invite the passerby to stop and wonder at their source and meaning, and ultimately, to discover a new perspective on life in the city. the artist explains, "Crossing non-signalized locations kis intended as a double entendre that references the real thing of a parking code but also contains connotations of meeting in uncertain places, shifting meanings and embracing the ambiguity that is inherent in life."
Crossing Non-Signalized Locations is a project for the exhibition Of, By, and For: New Work by Daniel Peltz and Paul Notzold, curated by Liz K. Sheehan for the CAC Gallery, on view September 7 - November 17, 2010. Along with 10,000 Excuses, designs and patterns for Peltz' project will be on view, connecting the space of the street with that of the gallery. Of, By, and For presents two models of artistic intervention into urban life that examine city structure, site, and community. Both projects concern ideas of mobility, communication, control, and how authority is made visible in city spaces, posing questions about what defines a public, a community, and its leaders, and how artists can facilitate the dialogue between these intersecting groups.
For more information, call the Cambridge Arts Council at 617-349-4380.