Initiated and organized by SAW Video in partnership with the City of Ottawa’s Community Arts Program and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, Cultural Engineering is a long-term multi-disciplinary commissioning project in which artists will document and respond artistically to the Arts Court re-development over the next 2.5 years and publish these new artworks to a specially-created website. The final phase of the project will be a group exhibition of the accumulated artworks in the inaugural show at SAW Video’s new facilities in the re-developed Arts Court. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-length publication containing critical essays, artist statements and reproductions of commissioned artworks.

For Cultural Engineering, two multi-disciplinary artists were ultimately selected from a city-wide call for proposals. Timothy Smith and Meredith Snider will investigate and examine the Arts Court re-development aesthetically and conceptually on an ongoing basis for the duration of the project. To complement their work, they will be joined periodically by special guest artists who will bring an even greater variety of perspectives and approaches to the initiative.

Timothy Smith’s practice is based in video and photography from a formal and aestheticized perspective. He will create a series of highly composed visual studies of the re-development process, focusing on both the macro and the micro while making use of time-lapse videography, digital image compositing and montage to underscore the relationship between architecture and our perceptual awareness of the passage of time.

Meredith Snider’s approach to the project is rooted in a research-based, transformative art process wherein she proposes to poll the public on their thoughts and opinions on the Arts Court re-development and then translate the results of those responses into a series of interpretive videos, photographs, paintings and sculptures. Snider’s work will shed light on the Arts Court re-development as a production of social space from a historical and materialist perspective.

SAW Video’s goal for this project is to involve artists and community members alike in an open public engagement with the re-development process. Over the course of the next two and a half years, the artists will respond to in the transformative process as it occurs and will seek to create opportunities for the public to engage with and reflect upon the re-development and what it means to them.

Cultural Engineering represents an important opportunity to not only document this historic change to Ottawa’s downtown skyline from the ground level, but also to involve the community and their voices in the process of creation of a new cultural landmark.