create / 2014

Out the Window

Out the Window

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by L.A. Freewaves

Freewaves will spearhead a multicultural, multi-aesthetic, county-wide coalition to bring a little media sunshine to all L.A. Metro buses.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Freewaves will spearhead a multicultural, multi-aesthetic, county-wide coalition to bring a little media sunshine to all L.A. Metro buses.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

Out the Window will transform our daily commute. A million Angelinos will wake up and go home not to the drivel of commercial TV but to innovative, informative videos that not only teach but also engage. How? On the bus! Yes, the bus – reversing the popular vision of transit from a drudge to a recharging experience – aiding in our efforts to create a multi-transit Los Angeles, while bringing videos by artists, organizations and students to people who are often served numbing media instead of relevant media. Out the Window makes that happen.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Shockingly, in an age when many view the Internet as ubiquitous and a demographic leveler, 92% of riders use cell phones (75% of those are smart phones), while 33% still lack other Internet access. Phones are their Internet! Out the Window will foster a multi-directional nexus of ideas, images and thought-based entertainment accessible to nearly all, regardless of economic status, neighborhood of residence or cultural affiliation. Functioning across social media and “live” screenings on the buses, a powerful and almost infinitely expandable vector for vital dialogs by, about and in Los Angeles will be created.

In 2013-14 Out the Window presented videos, (6 per week) each with an open-ended, pointed question in English and Spanish to which viewers responded via social media. In 2015 Freewaves will spearhead a multicultural, multi-aesthetic, county-wide coalition to bring a little media sunshine to all L.A. Metro buses. These videos will be:
• 1/3 by artists on the full breadth of issues of concern to them; • 1/3 about community health such as access to nutritious food,         obesity amelioration, and promotion of healthful lifestyles; • 1/3 about other issues, such as environmental, educational and         social, produced by LA nonprofit organizations;
• heavily represented with creative videos by LA youth enrolled in        video programs; • available for viewing on out-the-window.org and Freewaves’         Facebook page daily for viewers’ comments and sharing.

Out the Window uses Transit TV’s video system on all 2,000 L.A. Metro buses, reaching Los Angeles’s residents with creative and essential messages while providing free culture on the largest art distribution system in the country to the nation’s most populous county.

This program is ready to be fully established this year. It launched in 2010 with a MacArthur grant; it tested technologies, networks, programming, and surveyed viewers in 2011. It gathered resources in 2012 and now is ready to expand with all elements in place!

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

Today: • Create a network of video across the County. • Communication of urgent and long-term issues in hard to reach         communities. •    Develop an interactive video and social media network.

2050 • Firmly establish a cohesive system in which community         members and artists can exchange visual ideas, images and         information impacting life in Los Angeles County.    • Creation of a network capable of adapting to the quickly                  evolving platforms and aesthetics of social media and         image- making. • Add to the cool factor of riding the bus.

Art is passing from isolation, to intervention, to participation, to engagement, to a glorious ubiquity in which currently accepted and recognized disciplines and aesthetics evolve into new forms of public communication. With the blazingly fast developments in technology, we have witnessed an integration of disciplines, in which computing and telecommunication devices have fostered a new hybrid of public and private art, one that, by 2050, will have taken forms beyond prediction. Art will be everywhere, an integrated member of society for all.

Out the Window will play a significant role in that evolution, hastening the democratization of art and communication through its daily dissemination to the bus riding public and, in the future, to other constituencies whose daily lives bring them into contact with videos, mobile devices and means of sound and image distribution birthed by today’s technologies.

Whom will your project benefit?

Out the Window will reach a bus riding demographic that is 66% Latino, equally divided in gender, 50% under 30 and 66% low income. Freewaves current web activities reach an international core of media artists, aficionados, curiosity seekers and curators seeking the latest in artist-made videos. Out the Window will democratize that web to input from a demographic rarely included in the media world’s discussions, to the benefit of all.

Freewaves’ Multicultural Curatorial Process brings together media artists and activists from many of the County’s diverse arts and media organizations, plus independent artists and curators from diverse social, economic, ethnic, sexual orientation, aesthetic and age demographics. This has been made possible by Freewaves’ 25-year commitment to an all-inclusive media democracy, created and maintained by vigorous, ongoing outreach throughout our community.

Freewaves is no newcomer to outreach through media arts. In 2001, as part of its festival, it produced three half-hour educational videos, elucidating media arts in Los Angeles over the last ten years from Freewaves’ perspective. These documentaries aired on KCET-TV at the beginning and middle of the festival, providing audiences and students with background material for the festival. These programs were also donated to 250 high school art and media teachers throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District and the 75 Los Angeles City and County libraries. Curriculum Guides were written to facilitate classroom presentations by teachers.

Freewaves also responds to its constituencies’ needs with ongoing workshops designed to bring technology to media artists and activists in underserved communities. In 1999, the fruits of its workshops in Internet use and web design premiered on dozens of artists’ and arts organization web sites throughout the region. Along with the workshops, technical support facilitated their going on line and, if desired, they also received a free web site and eMail accounts for one year.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Freewaves will continue its partnership with Transit TV whose video monitors display a continuous one-hour loop on all L.A. Metro buses. Transit TV is in contract with Metro through 2015.

Major collaborators include the following:

ECHO PARK FILM CENTER programs and services are positive catalysts for at-risk students’ opportunities and interactions through media arts.

PUBLIC MATTERS is an interdisciplinary enterprise of artists, media professionals and educators who create new media, education and civic engagement projects yielding long-term community benefits.

USC’S PRICE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY AND ANNENBERG SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION are two of the leading schools within one of LA’s best and world renowned academic institutions. Faculty and Students from both programs will advise on health content and sharpen the evaluation process.

All of the following will be invited to participate:

SCHOOLS American Film Institute Art Institute of California Art Center College of Design CalArts School of Film and Video Columbia College Chicago CSUDH CSULA and Calstatela.edu extension CSULB CSUN Cypress College East LA Community College Emerson Los Angeles College Glendale Community College Long Beach City College Los Angeles City College Los Angeles Trade Tech College Los Cerritos Community College LAUSD Media Arts Advisory Committee Loyola Marymount University Mt. Sierra College Occidental College Otis College of Art & Design Pasadena City College Pierce College Pepperdine College Puente Learning Center Santa Monica College USC Cinema School UCLA Cinema School
West LA College

YOUTH CENTERS Artworx Barnsdall Jr Arts Ctr The Blazers Safe Haven Bresee Foundation CA Museum of Photography California State Summer School for the Arts Center for Media Literacy CALARTS Community Arts Partnership (CAP) EmpowerTech Inner City Arts Kaos Network Korean Youth & Comm. Center LA Public Library Teen ‘Scape Reach LA (S.I.P.A) Search to Involve Filipino Americans Towers Arts Center Venice Arts Mecca Video in Class, VIC Watts Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club

MEDIAMAKERS CineFamily City of LA Channel 35 Echo Park Film Center EZTV KCET Artbound
Public Matters LA Filmforum Independent Feature Project West International Documentary Association MOCA TV Self Help Graphics & Art Visual Communications

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Disseminate information on health, well-being and cultural issues to a hard to reach demographic.

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Though all demographics may be found on the bus, the majority is low income and avail themselves of health, wellness and social empowerment opportunities far less than more affluent demographics. Although Out the Window cannot deliver brick and mortar facilities, it can potentially inform 1,000,000 people per day of the needs, issues and possible responses towards enriching their lives.

Equally enriching, Freewaves provides a daily arts experience to all L.A. Metro bus riders. Through its social networking component and easily accessed direct response mechanism, Out the Window highlights the commonalities of all people, negating the false hierarchy between artists, student artists and the general public.

Out the Window reaches a potential and captive audience of approximately 1,000,000 daily riders of L.A. Metro buses - possibly the largest audience ever reached by any cultural event in Los Angeles or the United States. Since the launch of prototypes of this program, Freewaves has accrued 1,164 Facebook friends, 789 Twitter handles, 285 YouTube followers, 156 Instagram followers and 547 Tumblir followers, numbers we will aggressively seek to expand by at least 100% in the coming 2 years.

By 2050, we anticipate the networks established now will take on a life of their own. Persons with particular interests or opinion may form their own, far-reaching subsets of the population, enabling large scale, overnight lobbying efforts keeping grassroots opinion in the forefront of political discourse. Artists and artist hopefuls could easily come together in mutually beneficial associations for collaborations or exchange of technical, artistic and social ideas.

The large variety of video messages and voices contain information, ideas and inspirations focusing on the social, political and emotional underpinnings of a potential new Los Angeles in which all its citizens have access to creative dialogs, better or universal health care, environmental justice, healthful nutritional information and other issues directly impacting Angelinos.

Speculatively, the combination of obstacles making single vehicle transportation both economically and environmentally untenable, along with the enhanced attractiveness of mass transit could very well have a meaningful impact on the number of persons availing themselves of mass transit.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Freewaves is working with specialists such as Professor David Sloane, an expert in health policy and neighborhoods at USC’s Price School of Public Policy. He has identified realizable criteria and methodologies, to be facilitated by graduate students, that will provide assessments of Out the Window’s impact on bus riders. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are developed to assure a statistically and anecdotally useful set of materials for future projects.

A questionnaire co-designed by various specialists and administered at bus stops in past iterations of Out the Window has been refined for 2015 for three stages: the beginning, midpoint and end of the project. With a target sample of 250 interviews per round, we will assess how repeated, daily exposure to the project has impacted the bus riders’ awareness of issues and appreciation of art.

Specific questions to be asked and metrics to be compiled include:

• Do you watch the on bus TV?

• Did you get any useful information from Out the Window         programming?

• How do you compare Out the Window programming with         previous Transit TV programming?

• Have you responded to the on-screen prompted to participate         and answer questions?

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

LESSON 1 – NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE INTELLIGENCE OR EMOTIONAL DEPTH OF ANY HUMAN BEING. As artists we, all often, find ourselves making value judgments, imagining our creative status elevates us into a position of authority, able to analyze every human need and desire and spoon feed them back as paradigms of wisdom, art expressions of unsurpassed nuance. Throughout its quarter century presenting and encouraging the democratization of media art in public spaces, we observed little difference in percentage of people who “get” well made videos, no matter how experimental their aesthetic or content.

LESSON 2 – BRAZENLY KNOCK ON DOORS. As arts professionals we all too readily succumb to the first locked door, become wretchedly despondent, wallow in dramatic inferiority complexes and bitterly curse every bureaucrat and gatekeeper who ever lived. Throughout its existence, Freewaves has never given up on a project because one voice said, “No. Go away”. In project after project, we have learned there is always a back door, a friendly hidden ally, a previously unknown procedure for almost any idea sincerely conceived, intelligently presented and passionately advocated.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Out the Window is as “shovel-ready” as any project could possibly be.

  1. The basic tools and protocols of the project have thoroughly tested in pilot programs and previously implemented similar projects.

  2. Our collaborators, including Transit TV, the vendor selected by         L.A. Metro to provide video on all its buses, are either currently         committed, and/or participated in previous similar iterations,         and/or expressed a strong interest in being participants. This         web of collaborators extends across the entire L.A. County.

  3. Within the networks in place, previous events of similar scope         have been successfully completed in a year or less.

  4. The technical staff of contractors are all people with whom         Freewaves has worked on various projects over the last decade         or more.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Those challenges and strategies are:

  1. maintaining clear and accessible lines of communications with         all participants and collaborators. Over the last two decades,         Freewaves has successfully coordinated large numbers of         people of individuals and institutions and established solid         collegial relationships with all.

  2. assuring the selected videos do not run into censorship by         Transit TV or L.A. Metro. Over the last three years of prototypes,         Freewaves has learned what kinds of materials and images         might be censored. Over the last 25 years, Freewaves has         accrued the experience and interpersonal skills to work with         artists to maintain their message while avoiding censorship.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach