Riding and Writing on the Bus

on Nov 28 in News by

New site-specific poems by Marisela Norte written while riding the bus
Presented on Transit TV on LA Metro buses throughout December

Los Angeles, Calif. – Through short-form poems, presented on the Los Angeles County Metro bus Transit TV system, Out the Window shares the artist Marisela Norte’s unique perspective as a sharp observer and longtime bus rider in Los Angeles. Five new poems by Norte will appear when Metro buses pass through five intersections between East Los Angeles and Mid-Wilshire, every day in December 2011. The project links physical and virtual worlds through digital media offerings that coax viewers to explore and reconsider what exists out their window. Out the Window aims to create a communication network among the many social, cultural, economic and creative constituencies of Los Angeles.

Out the Window is a multi-phase project, with the first phase involving videos made by L.A. youth and the second, by artists, activists and storytellers.  The presentation of poetry marks the third phase and rolls out a new, innovative, geographically specific component. Whereas the videos appeared on all buses countywide at certain times of the day, Norte’s poems will be triggered as buses enter five specific intersections:  Whittier/Atlantic and Whittier/Indiana in East Los Angeles, 5th/Broadway in Downtown, Wilshire/Western in Koreatown and Wilshire/Fairfax in Mid-Wilshire. Norte wrote her poems with these intersections in mind as they relate to her daily commute and the people and places she observes along the way.

Norte discusses her process:  “I’ve chosen public transportation and my own two feet as my preferred means of navigating the city.  Every day I make it a point to venture out with my camera and a small notebook and just take in this landscape that is Los Angeles.  It can be a short tour around the neighborhood, a visit to the Shoe Repair man or a six mile walk. I take a personal object along with me to leave at a bus bench or atop a newspaper vending machine and try and imagine who may have come across it; might this be something they were looking for or had lost? Will they carry it home? Will it remain there for me to find again? Questions posed, and there begins the writing.  I have received many, many beautiful gifts on the sidewalks of the city; this is my thank you.”

In addition to scrolling on buses in December, Norte’s poems will be archived on the project website, www.out-the-window.org. Additionally, the website will pinpoint the five target intersections on a geocoded map of Los Angeles County.

Marisela Norte is a performance artist who writes most of her poetry on the No. 720 bus that takes her from East Los Angeles into the Mid-Wilshire area. She has conducted readings and workshops throughout the U.S. and worked in collaboration with other notable artists, including Luis Alfaro and Diane Gamboa. Her spoken word CD, “Norte/word” features poetic sketches that reflect her observations as a writer and rider on Los Angeles city buses. Until recently, Norte has been sharing her often humorous observations about unemployed life with more than 1,000 friends on Facebook.  Her collection of poetry, “Peeping Tom Tom Girl,” was published in 2008.

Sample poem appearing in December:

Snow covers man on pavement
Polka dot shoes run by
No clean getaways

Bus riders and access to technology

Greater Los Angeles has a wonderfully diverse population widely dispersed across its basin.  The buses with Transit TV broadcasting inside of them 24/7 crisscross its neighborhoods and social boundaries, passing unique, local cultural resources.  Out the Window targets where even the web doesn’t always reach and Transit TV allows for this logical weave.  Bus riders represent a population less reached by the Internet and new media—our research found that 41% rarely or never use the internet—but a 91% majority said they “like art.” The videos and poems produced for Out the Window are created by L.A. artists with this complex audience in mind and technology of Transit TV.

A one-minute Youtube video provides an overview of the project: http://youtu.be/W-ekiTrnYW0

For more information or to watch the videos online, visit www.out-the-window.org.

Out the Window is supported by grants from the HASTAC Digital Media and Learning Competition, The James Irvine Foundation, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty Grant Program, and the Pasadena Art Alliance.

Project partners

Out the Window participants will benefit from the leadership of five seasoned organizations in LA:

FREEWAVES manages Out the Window overall, including its website, www.out-the-window.org. Freewaves facilitates dialogues by inventing new media exhibition forms at experimental and established venues throughout Los Angeles, often in public spaces, such as on electronic billboards, storefronts, public TV, online, and art museums.

Since 2002, ECHO PARK FILM CENTER has facilitated dozens of free film and video workshops for more than 1000 youths between the ages of 12 and 19. Neighborhood and community are often themes in their work.  Echo Park Film Center provides learning labs and digital media workshops at their Echo Park storefront and throughout the city via the EPFC Filmmobile, an eco-friendly film school and cinema on wheels.

PUBLIC MATTERS is an interdisciplinary California-based social enterprise comprised of artists, media professionals and educators. Public Matters designs and implements integrated new media, education and civic engagement projects that yield long-term community benefits. Public Matters’ work spans a broad range of constituents and concerns: community building, neighborhood identity, youth leadership, and public health.

TRANSIT TV is an independent operator of the televisions on LA County Metro buses that depends on the sale of advertising for its revenue and it is the largest out-of-home network of its kind, the only bus TV system in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.

UCLA REMAP is developing the project’s cultural civic computing systems in collaboration with Tezo Systems, operator of Transit TV, which provides GPS and WiFi-enabled content distribution to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro). Through research, production, and civic engagement, UCLA REMAP explores the culture and empowering social situations enabled by interweaving of engineering, the arts and community development.

Freewaves: Anne Bray
anne@freewaves.org    323.871.1950    www.freewaves.org

Echo Park Film Center: Lisa Marr and Paolo Davanzo
info@echoparkfilmcenter.org www.echoparkfilmcenter.org

Public Matters:  Mike Blockstein and Reanne Estrada
info@publicmattersgroup.com   www.publicmattersgroup.com

Transit TV: Maurice Vanegas

UCLA REMAP:  Fabian Wagmister and Jeff Burke

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