Correction: My face is red. Even though the artist John Ewing received a 2009 Knight Foundation grant announced Wednesday for his Virtual Street Corners project, the dates we gave you were for last year. No information on where the new Street Corners project is but as soon as we get the information, we will post it. In the meantime, if you go to Dudley Square thinking you’ll engage someone in Brookline, you’re out of luck. Or you could take the bus over and just chat with someone there in person.
The street corner has always been the place to meet and chat with neighbors. Boston digital artist John Ewing has taken that one virtual step further. Since June 12 and running through June 21, Ewing has set it up so passersby in Roxbury and Brookline can chat with each other as they walk past a couple local landmarks. It is an attempt to open up some dialogue between two neighborhoods that are just 2.5 miles apart but a world away from each other.
Ewing, with the help of several area foundations and a $40,000 grant from the 2009 Knight Foundation News Challenge, set up life-size video screens at Stash’s Grill on Dudley Street in Roxbury and Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner. The project, titled Virtual Street Corners, is an attempt to bridge the distance between the two disparate neighborhoods that are connected by the MBTA’s Route 66 bus but little else.
While some of the conversations will be arranged between elected officials, youth groups, religious leaders and arts performances (check out the inaugural conversation between Ron Jones and Larry Tish of The Black Jew Dialogues), most of the real-time dialogue will be between pedestrians going by the video screens which will operate 24/7.
This isn’t Ewing’s first foray into what he calls experiments in dialogic public art. In 2001, he debuted his Symphony of a City, where he outfitted eight city residents with “headcams” to record daily life in Boston from their perspective and then beamed the images onto a 30-foot wall at City Hall and across the web.
So if you’re out on Dudley Street taking a late night stroll, say hi to your neighbor in Coolidge Corner walking his dog. You might find you have something to talk about.
Photo from Virtual Street Corners.