Last October, 100 mules, a couple of wranglers and one civic-minded artist set out on a nearly month-long, 240-mile journey on foot from the Owens Valley to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park.
Lauren Bon’s mobile art project, “100 Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct,” was an ambitious, unwieldy and some say stunning performance piece meant to reawaken Angelenos’ interest in its water supply and commemorate the aqueduct’s 100th birthday. It kicked up a ton of dust, literally and figuratively, along the way.
Thursday night, KCET will air an hour-long documentary about the participatory art adventure, produced by its “transmedia arts and culture series,” “Artbound,” helmed by Juan Devis.
“Lauren kept saying the project was a meditation, a way for us to come to terms with the fact that we bring water from 240 miles away to take care of us,” said Devis, who also founded KCET’s “Departures,” a Web series focusing on the cultural history of SoCal neighborhoods. “One of the things we wanted to do with the film was give to the audience that same sense of meditation and patience and reckoning that the 240-mile walk awakened in the people who participated in it.”
On Wednesday, KCET announced that Devis, formerly vice president of arts and culture programming, was promoted to senior vice president of content development and production for KCET and Link TV, the national, nonprofit satellite network that merged with KCET two years ago.
With his new position, and with the ability to reach more than 35 million people through Link TV, Devis aims to push boundaries of public media programming.
“One of the things we discovered with our arts and culture programming is a participatory [content model],” he says. “We figured out how the Web can be an incubator of content, and TV and broadcast the aggregator. And how we can create a different, updated sensibility for public media here in Southern California. ‘100 mules’ is a great example of that.”
“100 Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct” airs 9 p.m. Thursday on KCET; it runs on Link TV at 8 p.m. May 12.