“Civic Action honors the legacy of Isamu Noguchi and Mark di Suvero, who’s pioneering commitment to Long Island City launched its regional, national, and international profile,” said Jenny Dixon, director of Noguchi Museum. “It is hoped that in exploring creative, integrated approaches to planning – ones that embrace the needs of the neighborhood’s diver stake holders – Civic Action will create a model that can be used by communities across NYC.”
The artists’ ideas are diverse, some simple in their design, others more complex. Each of the teams included an architect, an urban planner or landscape architect, additional artist staff, and a writer to document the progress of each team. The teams began by doing a thorough study of Long Island City, “completely immersing themselves in the physical, social, and cultural history of the community.” The museum and sculpture park helped out by providing physical and digital models of the area, zoning studies, ariel photography, and maps. Artists also looked at studies of Noguchi’s public space projects and di Suvero’s development of Socrates Sculpture Park.
Natalie Jeremijenko, a scientist and new media artist, designed UP_2_U, a futuristic green system that seeks to improve and adapt the energy, transportation, and mobility systems of LIC by aligning them with the needs of human and environmental health. The project uses “smart-city” technology that provides feedback loops on the environmental health of LIC. The ecosystem would be monitored and allowed to thrive through infrastructure that combines biodiversity with human interaction. Alternative forms of distribution and transportation would also be developed with consideration of the environment, such as “ariel flylines” that would be used for manufacturing and distribution ports rather than trucks. Green energy would be the main source of power for the community, such as “solar awnings” on windows and doors.
The human element involves exercise centers throughout the neighborhood that include quirky sports like tree climbing and hula-hooping. “Think Charlie and the Chocolate factory, meets Steve Irwin, meets engineering for people, meets Doctors without Borders,” says Jeremijenko. “Only it’s your own city’s backyard populated with exhilarating devices, marvelous couplings, delicious new foods, and spectacles that are designed to create shared public memories of very possible futures.”
Mary Miss, a trained sculpture artist, presents Ravenswood/CaLL, a repurposed district along the western coastline of Queens named after the Ravenswood strip in LIC. This district would be a small scale example of the City as a Living Laboratory (CaLL), dedicated to developing projects through a collaborative effort between artists and scientists. Described as an “art-infused urban research zone,” it will include a lab where artists and scientists can work together on research projects, with the secondary goal of preventing gentrification in the area by using a dilapidated area for creative causes that empower the established local community.