Urban Design
March 2, 2011 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Candy Chang is a public installation artist, designer, urban planner and 2011 TED Senior Fellow based in New Orleans. Her Civic Center creates projects that try to "make cities more comfortable", and encourage residents to envision alternate urban realities: "I Wish This Was...." (site) / The NYC Street Vendor Guide / "Before I Die... In NOLA" / The Restroom Map Notepad / The Sexy Trees of the Marigny 2011 Calendar / The Neighbor Doorknob-Hanger / A Nice Place for a Tree and Post-It Notes for Neighbors. (Via).

From the Via link:
Chang's "I Wish This Was" project challenges New Orleans residents to project their ideal neighborhood onto the still-struggling post-Katrina landscape. The installation is simple: just a bunch of blank "my name is"-style stickers that say "I Wish This Was." What would you like to see in that boarded-up shop window? Food? Bikes? Tacos? Art supplies? A sex place? Fill in a sticker and slap it on up there.

It's all fantasy, of course, and everyone knows it. But it gets people thinking about what their dream city would look like, and it probably gets them talking. Common desires start to emerge -- bike shops, art, affordable fresh food. The project lets people call out for others to take an interest in the city, and it makes them take an interest too. As you read the stickers, an even-better-than-before New Orleans starts to shine through.
posted by zarq (7 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Ms. Chang spoke at TED yesterday morning about "Before I Die... in NOLA" and "I Wish This Was..." The video is not yet online, but here's an overview from Brain Pickings.
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on March 2, 2011

Neat post!
posted by klangklangston at 12:10 PM on March 2, 2011

Thanks! I had a lot of fun putting it together.
posted by zarq at 12:20 PM on March 2, 2011

This is really really cool, especially I Wish This Was, which is a really neat project. As someone who watches urban design from afar with amazement and fascination, it's great that basic populist desires for what a neighborhood can look like can be natural and even a little irreverent.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:23 PM on March 2, 2011

For a great example of what photography can expose about bad urban design, check out Chang's People Trying to Sit.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:27 PM on March 2, 2011

Absolutely love her work. Thanks!
posted by ottereroticist at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2011

It's really weird for me to see the "I Wish This Was..." project because I worked on a very similar project for Glasgow with half the mojo when I was interning at a think tank in London. We did postcards instead of stickers and the wish making was only one arm of a multi pronged project that was using story telling as a way of getting more candid and representative opinions about the city. Unfortunately it flopped because we took a polemical argument against the council who were in charge of urban development....and were also funding our project and for obvious reasons the media didn't like the idea of wonks (mostly) in London selling the people's voice of Glasgow back to Glasgow whilst pissing on the council. Which makes we wonder a couple of things;

1. Who is currently funding the project?
2. What does the city council in New Orleans make of this project?
3. How do people keep in touch over common wishes?
4. What is the next level of organising that needs to be done to turn a smorgasbord of wishes, of varying practicality and fantasy, into a new cafe, or a new park, or a new festival?

I ask as someone who likes the stickers. I like how you can plaster them where the action is, I like that the context is semi captured in the photograph, I like how easy and convenient they are, I like that they are collated and shown off, even the candid 'sex place' ones, all these things conspire to encourage use and appropriation. But I'm sceptical of the beauty of wishes without responsibility.
posted by doobiedoo at 5:23 PM on March 2, 2011

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