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The project links physical and virtual worlds through digital media portraits of places, offering views from different neighborhoods up to the city and region at large. Out the Window aims to create a mosaic of the many social, cultural, economic and creative layers of this complex American city. In reply, bus riders can text responses instantly or eventually to location-specific and thematic questions posed on the screens by youths, artists or community curators.

Since Fall 2010, youth in Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown and East Los Angeles have been participating in a collaborative learning community, specifically designed to build digital media communication skills, including storytelling, technical media skills, social networking and critical thinking. Specifically, they are writing and producing one to three minute videos exploring aspects of community and place, to be seen on over 2,200 buses traversing Los Angeles County.

The videos will be shown hourly on Metro buses over a week in June (6/13-6/19, 2011) and will be archived on the project website, Additionally, the website will provide resources, like media art centers where anyone can learn how to create digital media and ways to comment and submit videos for future screenings on the buses.
“Place is the new identity politics. The youth in Out the Window examine this subject anew hopefully in dialogue with fellow commuters, 91% of who say they like art,” says Anne Bray, Executive Director of Freewaves, LA’s public media arts organization.
The Metro buses crisscross Los Angeles’ diverse neighborhoods and social boundaries, passing unique, local cultural resources. Out the Window targets people and places where even the web doesn’t always reach.

Sixty-nine percent of Metro riders live in households making $26,000 or less a year. Thirty-three percent of riders have no or rare access to the Internet, yet most riders have cell phones, which they use to text as well as call. Out the Window’s partners believe the riders represent a population who should be no less served by the telecommunication innovations that have emerged in the last decade. The videos and questions produced for Out the Window are created with this complex audience in mind.

The videos

The videos produced by youth working with Echo Park Film Center are called The Sound We See: A Los Angeles City Symphony. Participating teacher Angelo J. Pompano says, “City Symphonies are motion pictures that capture the spirit and uniqueness of a city by assembling images of everyday life in that city. These abstract images of the city capture its heartbeat and expose its soul.” Over twelve weeks, teens and their artist teachers explore the origins of the City Symphony and its contemporary relevance as students create their own 24-hour cinematic celebration of the dynamic metropolis that is Los Angeles.

Public Matters is working with two groups of high school aged students. Students from the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy are creating videos around healthy food access issues in their community including a series Have You Noticed? /Té Has Fijado? Students from Pdub Productions, a project in conjunction with Pilipino Workers Center, are creating pieces that explore Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown including a series entitled Hidden Hi Fi about the unknown, unexplored and unexpected facets of life in Historic Filipinotown. An additional series will explore the students’ own personal stories of immigration and migration.

Out the Window participants will benefit from the leadership of four seasoned organizations in LA: FREEWAVES manages Out the Window overall, including its website, 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, even at 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.

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.
A Youtube video shows the program, the makers and its context during the trial phase.

For information about the videos or to watch them online, visit Out the Window is supported by a grant from the HASTAC Digital Media and Learning Competition.

More information:
Freewaves: Anne Bray 213.344.8910

Echo Park Film Center: Lisa Marr and Paolo Davanzo 213.484.8846

Public Matters: Mike Blockstein and Reanne Estrada 323.953.0691

UCLA REMAP: Fabian Wagmister and Jeff Burke and 310.825.8698

Transit TV: Maurice Vanegas 818.768.0617

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