Interrogative Design: Selected Works of Krzysztof Wodiczko – Poliscar
For the duration of the Interrogative Design exhibition, we will be providing expanded online content to give viewers a deeper access to selected projects. Materials for this exhibit provided by the artist, with unique edits specially produced for this project by GSD Exhibitions.
Poliscar, 1991, New York, New York
• Avenue C & East 10th Street, New York, New York
The name of the vehicle, “Poliscar,” is derived from the root of ‘police,’ ‘policy,’ and ‘politics’: polis, the Greek word for city-state, which refers more to the social structure of a community and the participation of its citizens than to a specific institution or place. But what of the people in a society who have been rendered as non-citizens, namely the homeless? Wodiczko’s Poliscar conveys the symbolic idea of creating a polis for the homeless while also acting as a practical vehicle, designed to protect the homeless while giving them mobility. The Poliscar is a three-wheeled vehicle that looks like a tank, with a revolving conic lid and a small gasoline engine attached to facilitate habitability and movability. While the Poliscar makes the homeless visible in public space, Wodiczko’s design extends beyond the physical realm to include various information and communication tools contained inside, intended to establish a communication network among homeless people.
This internal communications network was conceived as a Citizen’s Band Radio, whereby the users could communicate both amongst themselves (i.e. with other Poliscars), and with a broader base of users. The design intent was to broadcast video images to Poliscars across the city via a transmitter on the 82nd floor of the Empire State Building. By distributing this content across its own network, the Poliscar would provide a sense of belonging through social and cultural solidarity, with various kinds of support services that come with the open exchange of information.
Therefore, the implications of the Poliscar design proposition are around organizing a communications network for homeless people to increase their sense of security, boost their participation in municipal, state, and federal elections, develop a sense of social and cultural bonds among the homeless population, help the homeless create their own history, support programs for legal, medical, and social aid, and include the economic system of the homeless in the larger economic system of the city.