co-founded in 2001 by
Millie Chen, Andrew Ellis Johnson, and Paul Vanouse

PED is simultaneously a pseudo service bureau and an info/excer-tainment outlet from which viewer/participants may embark on free, talking-bicycle lecture tours. Each site-specific instance of PED provides a different menu of thematic tours, each with specific routes to follow. Bicycles are outfitted with or connected to an audio system, whether pedal activated or radio transmitted. Riders hear pre-prepared tour narratives, layered with music, poetry and most recently live voice transmission, via small speakers mounted to the bicycle handlebars, public address systems attached to carts, or walkie talkies. Each tour begins and returns to the PED service bureau. Individual routes are delineated by either temporary chalk-based paint, alternative signage or tour escorts.

PED service-bureau attendants 'perform' 8-hour days--encouraging participants, suggesting routes, maintaining bicycles and keeping records.  PED expands the parameters of performance by both invisibly performing a service bureau and orchestrating viewers to unwittingly perform (as they conspicuously ride through the city or locale on the talking-bicycles, adorned with identifying helmets).  Tours typically range in length from 5 to 20 minutes, and cover a correspondingly sized area of the city/locale.

PED.Buffalo (April-July, 2001) was the first instance of the more embracing PED project and included ten tours: Safe, Natural, Comfortable, Convenient, Controlled, Efficient, Spacious, Diverse, Civilized and Pleasant.  PED.Buffalo took place at the University of Buffalo Art Gallery and explored pedagogical issues of guidance and control.  It posed and answered questions concerning the relationship between the suburban university and the decaying rust-belt city of Buffalo as participants traversed bike paths running throughout the 1200-acre campus, each tour with a different theme based on familiar adjectives used in marketing suburban property.  The lectures varied in nature from the professorial to the sensorial, from the informational to the irrational, and periodically disseminated details related to the passing terrain--former wetlands that were paved over to build the campus.
PEDdaling through the concept of art
PED.Tonawandas (September 14- October 19, 2003) was an interactive art exhibition curated by Elizabeth Licata. This version of PED offered four free bicycles tours to viewers. The tours illuminated the geographic and historical context of the Tonawandas with a special focus on the Erie Canal using archives, original texts and music paired with literature, poetry, legend and lore. “The implications of the Erie Canal and its effect on the Tonawandas are crucial points in the context of this exhibition." said PED artist, Andrew
Johnson. ”We look at time periods both before the canal was built and now, after it is no longer in use. We think that taking a look at how this has changed the communities in the area, through our work, will help bring people together and connect them to their history.”
Carnegie Art Center article


PED. Hamilton (October 6 – November 16, 2003) was a version created for “Re:Cycle,” a series of site-responsive outdoor sculpture installations organized by McMaster Museum of Art for the university campus in Hamilton, Ontario, scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Road World Cycling Championship in Hamilton. “Re:cycle” was a collaborative programming project coordinated by the Hamilton Artists Inc., The Art Gallery of Hamilton, the McMaster Museum of Art, and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre. PED.Hamilton offered two bicycle tours originating from inside the museum that focused on border crossings between the USA and Canada.


PED.Belfast (December, 2002) included two tours: Economy and Business/First.  Each embarked from a temporary PED service bureau in an alleyway adjacent to the Catalyst Art Center. The content of the PED.Belfast lecture tours was a recontextualization of the city's projected image contrasted with its quotidian activities.  Much of the marketing of a city depends on creating a pre-digested, unified image and reifying stereotypes (albeit for ostensibly diverse temperaments).  Conversely, PED.Belfast explored diverse subjective vantages within the living city through an analysis of what should be seen/hidden, experienced/forbidden, known/forgotten, and celebrated/mourned.  PED.Belfast's tours were narrated by twelve Buffalonians in Irish taverns who had never been to Ireland along with twelve Belfastians in Northern Irish taverns who had never been to the States.



PED.Chongqing (June 2006, Chongqing, China) presented collective teams riding custom audio bicycle systems (built from salvaged bicycle parts) that pulled carts and powered hacked megaphones. These human-driven six-wheeled public address vehicles broadcast audio on a large scale via karaoke-inspired lectures, spreading information and entertainment in a new/ancient society. The three tours included:
1. The Long, Long Virtuous Path to Sunshine Vehicle
2. The Twin Stacks of Supreme Happiness Vehicle
3. The Vehicle for Ten Thousand Fertile Scholars’ Star Rated Market Approved Big Shiny Hot Pot for the Benevolent Ghosts from the Immortal Mountains of the Healthy Valley of Plenty. PED.Chongqing was completed by an expanded PED team that included Warren Quigley and 38 students of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chongqing, China. It was realized in cooperation with the Chongqing 955 Bicycle Club and the International Long March project.


PED.Rio (March, 2007, Brazil)
Millie Chen, Joan Linder, Andrew Ellis Johnson, Warren Quigley and Paul Vanouse

As a self-reflexive agency, PED acknowledges its complicity in the market of cultural exchange but accepts opportunities to engage diverse audiences in framing and exploring pressing global issues. At FILE RIO 2007 (Brazil’s Electronic Language International Festival), PED’s 7th service bureau participated in FILE NOMAD which presents creative urban
interventions. Though bicycles and walkie-talkies are now considered low-tech technology, they continue to serve as common devices for mobility and urgent communication, even in urban environments.
Sugar, poetry, popular music, and a dubious love duet were among the tools and materials that merged with cycling and transmitting to guide the rider/transporter along PED.Rio’s metaphorical trade route. Addressing trade between northern and southern hemispheres with specific reference to recent and ongoing negotiations regarding ethanol (processed from sugar cane in Brazil), PED.Rio bikes left a trail of sugar in their wake. For the first time, PED utilized live voice transmission, layered on top of pre-recorded soundtracks, to communicate with riders.

PED.Rio, with its public interface, garnered media coverage on the local television news and attracted the participation of champion and novice athletes. Fernanda Keller, six- time champion of the Brazilian Triathlon and swimmer Mariana Brochado, participant in Athens’ 2004 Summer Olympics and bronze medalist in the 2003 Pan American Games accompanied three young athletes from the Oi sponsored institute in Niterói.

Notwithstanding media attention and occasional celebrity involvement, PED project bicycles typically take on a populist and non-conformist role, suggesting a viable form of public communication and democratic address. In PED, mobility and permeation, perambulation and dissemination are characteristics of the tools and technology involved, but also of us as agents. (Click on FILE NOMAD/PED)
Translation at: