The Urban Defibrillator Project attempts to use the metaphor of medical defibrillation to encounter issues of urban dilapidation and encourage discourse on the relationship of the human body to the body of a community. Often in urban environments issues of high crime, poverty, drug abuse, unemployment, and dilapidation are countered with large-scale studies, surface beautification projects, and crackdowns on so-called unpopular social elements. Often still, these environments are looked at without accounting for a specific traumatic past.
The trauma associated with so-called ‘blighted urban communities’ is not dissimilar from trauma that a body in physical / social / emotional distress experiences. When a human body suffers particular cardiac trauma a defibrillator is used, not, as often mistaken, to ‘jump start the heart’ but rather to remove all existing ‘irregular electro-rhythm’ in order for the heart to resume its own ‘regular electro-rhythm’.
Using this metaphor the Urban Defibrillator Project attempts to find out how a particular catalytic and dramatic action, equivalent to that of medical defibrillation can allow for a community to resume its own ‘normal’ activity. In order to proceed with this project questions need to be both asked and answered collectively by the community in question. These questions include: Where is the heart of a community? What are the ‘irregular rhythms’ that exist? What course of treatment has been given so far and why has it not worked? What type of mechanism will need to be deployed for this action? What will the duration of this action be? Who in the community is the equivalent of the doctor in applying this action? Is it an action of one or of many?
The successful implementation of the Urban Defibrillator Project will rely on the participation of members of this community as well as trauma specialists, medical personnel, social workers, artists, urban planners, municipal workers, and students to form and implement what particular defibrillative action could take place.