Symphony of a City is a public cyberart documentary project by Liz Canner and John Ewing that is designed to create dialogue and reflection about housing and community building. Dynamic individuals, from a homeless person to a multi-millionaire, were nominated by over 50 community groups from across Greater Boston, to wear tiny video cameras on their heads and document life from their perspective for a day. Eight outstanding citizens were selected. The project premiered at the 2001 Boston Cyberarts Festival where over the course of two days the videos the participants generated were streamed in real-time on the Web and presented as large scale outdoor video projections on the facade of Boston City Hall. The video from each of the participants was juxtaposed so that at any given moment four stories, four lives, four perspectives were in view. The project now exists as a gallery installation, an experimental single channel documentary and an interactive cyber documentary on this web site.
For the entire day the selected participants documented everything they saw, did, heard and said. They were trained artistically as camera operators. Some participants showed a carefully planned sequence of activities; others involved friends, family and neighbors in carrying out the project; still others decided to go about their day as if the camera wasn’t present. Much of the power of Symphony of a City comes from what couldn’t be planned in advance – the juxtaposition of four different participants and four different perspectives – and how viewers react.Boston City Council member
Chuck Turner wearing “headcam”
Teachers and students in Boston high schools and colleges used a study guide developed by sociologist Karen Werner. Exercises provided thought provoking lessons on Boston neighborhoods, the politics of visibility and representation, media literacy and technology