Crooked River in the First and Third Persons, July 2008, Cleveland, Ohio.
Crooked River in First and Third Persons is a 48-hour way-finding via sound experiment that re-engages the multiple legacies of the Cuyahoga River – its industrial fires, marine life losses, engineers’ ambitions, immigrant dreams, serpentine navigations – with its contemporary forms of agency. This displaced current was produced by recording the river, collecting its stories, and then broadcasting these stories from a series of FM transmitters along the songline of the immaterial river. Interceptable by any FM receiver – iPods, portable radios, car radios, etc. – people tuned themselves to both the physically changing contemporary landscape around the river, and the stories and sounds of the river. The project also included a floating device that was launched upstream during the first day of the Festival at a location that is the equivalent of 3 river days away from Cleveland. This geo-tagged device journeyed toward the Festival and served as a living interface to the river. This device relayed its position and sent historical photographs of its location to peoples cell phones and computers.
The two primary features of the project invite participants to re-imagine how we “navigate” and interact with the river by audibly tracing the songlines through the Festival and by visually tracing the river’s landmarks via SMS photos. As Clevelanders contributed their stories via web, skype or post, their narratives became folded into the ongoing aural archive, which was continually accessible throughout the duration of the project. Participants became attuned to the river, not simply as a geographical feature, but rather as a dynamic zone where ecosystems, and industry, pleasure and labor become intertwined with the unfolding history of the Cuyahoga.
Crooked River expanded the geographical and cultural reach of the Ingenuity Festival to include a broader bandwidth, fostering discussion and engagement with Cleveland’s complex history and morphology. Members of spurse staffed a booth during the duration of the Ingenuity Festival, training participants on the use of the various listening recording apparatuses.
Flats Oxbow Association
Vicci Simpkins and Russ Eckles: Cleveland Rowing Association
Matt Previts: St. Ignatius Rowing Crew
Christopher Alvarado and Dan Meaney: Cuyahoga County Planning Commisssion
Michael Ciccarello: Cleveland Dragon Boat Association
Bill Barrow: Cleveland Memory Project
Jim White: Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization