April 27, 2005
A Street History in Semacode
eRuv: A Street History in Semacode, by Elliott Malkin, is a digital graffiti project installed along the route of the former 3rd Avenue elevated train line throughout Lower Manhattan. This train line was part of a religious boundary called an eruv for the immigrant Polish Chasidic Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century.
The train has since been dismantled and most of the Chasidic Jews have moved away, so what was once both a physical and symbolic enclosure is now purely imaginary, a psychic boundary that intersects present-day communities in Lower Manhattan, most notably in Chinatown.
Each location along the eruv corresponds to a semacode ID. New Yorkers or tourists using a compatible camera phone can receive audio content (in Chinese, Spanish, Yiddish, and English) associated with that location, true stories from the past associated with that point in space. Participants will also have the option to leave their own "oral history," a voice message about their experience with that same space or a reaction to the historical reconstruction.
It is important for eRuv to be provided in the above four languages, as the purpose of this project is to undermine the sorts of boundaries that separate cultures in New York across time and space. eRuv uses boundaries and awareness of boundaries as a way of undermining those very cultural boundaries.
Posted by jo at April 27, 2005 07:02 AM