PED

 

PED projects have been ongoing since 2001.

 

PED collective:

Millie Chen, Andrew Johnson, Paul Vanouse (since 2001)
Warren Quigley (since 2006)
Joan Linder (since 2007)
Suzanne Slavick (since 2015)

 

 


 

PED is a collective that makes participatory bicycle-driven art projects operating in public space. Each project is created specifically for the varying location and situation, and is simultaneously a pseudo service bureau and an info/excer-tainment outlet from which visitors/ participants may embark on free, talking-bicycle ‘lecture’ tours. In some PED projects, each bicycle is outfitted with a pedal-activated audio system (i.e. as the participant pedals, they hear the lecture, and when they stop the lecture ceases), while in others, the audio is transmitted via electronic communications devices/systems such as walkie-talkies and GPS. The series expands the parameters of performance by engaging viewers as agents as they conspicuously ride through the city on the talking-bicycles, disseminating information by publicly broadcasting the lectures.

PED.Buffalo (April-July 2001, University at Buffalo Art Gallery Research Center in Art & Culture, Buffalo, U.S.A.) was the first instance of the PED projects and included ten tours: Safe, Natural, Comfortable, Convenient, Controlled, Efficient, Spacious, Diverse, Civilized and Pleasant. PED.Buffalo took place at the University at Buffalo and explored pedagogical issues of guidance and control. It posed and answered questions concerning the relationship between the suburban university and the decaying rust-belt city of Buffalo as participants traversed bike paths running throughout the 1200-acre campus, each tour with a different theme based on familiar adjectives used in marketing suburban property. The lectures varied in nature from the professorial to the sensorial, from the informational to the irrational, and periodically disseminated details related to the passing terrain–former wetlands that were paved over to build the campus.
PED service-bureau attendants ‘perform’ full days, encouraging participants, suggesting routes, maintaining bicycles and keeping records. Tours typically range in length from 5 to 20 minutes, and cover a correspondingly sized area of the city/locale.
PED.Belfast (December 2002, fiX02 International Performance Art Festival, Catalyst ArtsBelfast, Northern Ireland) included two tours: Economy and Business/First, each embarking from a temporary PED service bureau, in an alleyway adjacent to the Catalyst Arts Center. The content of the PED.Belfast lecture tours was a recontextualization of the city’s projected image contrasted with its quotidian activities. Much of the marketing of a city depends on creating a pre-digested, unified image and reifying stereotypes (albeit for ostensibly diverse temperaments). Conversely, PED.Belfast explored diverse subjective vantages within the living city through an analysis of what should be seen or hidden, experienced or forbidden, known or forgotten, celebrated or mourned. PED.Belfast’s tours were narrated by twelve Buffalonians in Irish taverns who had never been to Ireland along with twelve Belfastians in Northern Irish taverns who had never been to the United States.

PED.Chongqing (June 2006, Tank Loft Arts Center, Chongqing, China) introduced collective teams as the riders of custom audio, 6-wheeled, cart-pulling bicycle systems built from salvaged bicycle parts and hacked megaphones. The vehicles were capable of large-scale public address. These human-driven machines broadcast audio via karaoke-inspired lectures, spreading information and entertainment in a new/ancient society. The three tours were: The Long, Long Virtuous Path to Sunshine Vehicle; The Twin Stacks of Supreme Happiness Vehicle; The Vehicle for Ten Thousand Fertile Scholars’ Star Rated Market Approved Big Shiny Hot Pot for the Benevolent Ghosts from the Immortal Mountains of the Healthy Valley of Plenty. PED.Chongqing was completed by an expanded PED team including 38 students of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. It was realized in cooperation with Chongqing 955 Bicycle Club and the International Long March project.

PED.Rio (March 2007, FILE-Rio 2007: Electronic Language International Festival, Oi Futuro Cultural Center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) continued the focus on global issues on a local level, seeking to distill issues of trade between the northern and southern hemispheres through the use of metaphor. Sugar, poetry, popular music, a dubious love duet and walkie-talkies were the tools used to guide the rider/transporter along the PED.Rio trade route. For the first time, PED utilized live voice transmission, layered on top of the pre-recorded soundtracks, to communicate with the riders. As a self-reflexive agency, PED acknowledges its complicity in the market of cultural exchange but sees invitations as opportunities to discuss and frame important global issues. Bicycles and walkie-talkies are considered low-tech technology at this point in history but continue to serve as common devices for urgent communication.
PED.St. John’s (June 2008, Sound Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada) utilized stereo radio transmissions, each broadcast on a different frequency, engaging riders who eavesdropped on a conversation between various characters (humans, non-humans, even phenomena) throughout the history of Newfoundland. This conversation was filled with misunderstandings, lost signals, faulty transmissions and disagreements across time. The shadow of Guglielmo Marconi’s historic lighthouse loomed large. The persistent beeps of his Morse code punctuated the dialog and the booming horns of freighters in the harbor periodically obliterated all narrative.
PED.Toronto (Summer 2016, Koffler Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada) consisted of a series of three bike tours through Toronto’s West Queen West area that examined the city’s shifting identities, multi-faceted realities and imagined potentials: Toronto the Good incorporated literary and filmic references revealing this city as a place rich in its own stories as well as a cinematic stand-in for other cities; Toronto the Better focused on the current streetscape and local culture of the sites, start-ups, outreach organizations, businesses and personalities in the area; Toronto the Best offered riders a transformative experience, channelling science fiction into a call to action for Toronto residents, whether they are long-time, new or even yet unforeseen citizens. Converted into the PED Station and Museum, the Koffler Gallery served as a bicycle terminal and information hub, where multimedia displays featured a retrospective of past PED projects and a live feed observation centre that extended the outdoor experience and interactive engagement with the city.
Video documentation of PED.Chongqing (2006), with excerpts from PED.Buffalo (2001)