Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 5 - Conclusion

I wasn't able to schedule a time today while the sun was still up to go out and do the shadow project. Instead, I'll offer some final thoughts on what I've done this week.

Initially, I was hesitant to go out and perform a work of art where the performance, and thus myself, were the main aspect of the work. This hypothesis was largely supported by my experiences, as people who commented on the work in progress said "that guy" a lot more often than they said "those drawings" or "that event," or anything similar. I and my actions were the focus, and this was uncomfortable for me.

This process of direct interaction with the viewer may be rewarding for some: performance artists, musicians, actors, etc. but it isn't what I'm after, preferring to produce an object which then becomes the focus of the discourse.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 4 - Hiatus

I was downtown earlier, but was unable to do any chalk outlines because it was overcast the entire time (no shadows) and raining occasionally (would wash the chalk away. I've gotten some good comments/feedback about the project, both here on the blog and in person from people I've mentioned it to. Mary's comment on the second entry made me think of doing several chalk outlines of the same object's shadow at different times, to create several increasingly smaller and shifting outlines as the shadow moves, grows, and dwindles throughout the day. Tomorrow is the last day of this blog project for me, and if possible, that's how I would like to spend it, if the weather allows me to do so.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 3 - 15th Street Shadows

Yesterday people didn't have as much time to respond, because it took very little time to outline each piece of litter, document it, and move on to the next one. To allow more time for interaction with potential viewers, I took on the more ambitious project of outlining shadows cast by various objects on the sidewalk.

These first three images are of the streetlight shadow I outlined by PF Chang's China Bistro on 15th. You may notice that by the time I photographed the work, the shadow had already shifted from its initial position towards the top of the pole. Several passers-by commented to each other, but not to me, about the work. One woman said, "Look at that guy," which her friend did, but I didn't overhear the response because they had crossed the intersection by that time.

This bike shadow outline received the most feedback from viewers. A couple stopped to watch - a woman on a bike, and a man on foot who looked at me suspiciously. Once I had finished drawing the outline and stood up, the man came over and said he had wondered what "that guy" was doing by his bike. I apologized if it had caused him any inconvenience or delayed his exit (which immediately followed), but he seemed to like the project once he realized I wasn't stealing his bike or vandalizing it. Several other people stopped to watch as well, or slowed down while passing to see what was going on, and one of the children they had with them seemed very interested.

These two images are from an incomplete outline I did across the street from the downtown Tattered Cover. I chose it for the multiple objects casting shadows, and the narrow, yet busy, sidewalk that would make interaction with the public more likely. I got some suspicious looks (there was even a Homeland Security marked police hummer across the street watching me briefly) and I had to move out of people's way constantly. Unfortunately, the sun went behind a cloud partway through the drawing, and it was impossible to complete as the shadows blurred out.

Overall, today was more successful than yesterday. I like the premise of outlining litter similar to corpses at crime scenes better than this shadow project, but the more labor-intensive, and thus lengthier, process allowed me to interact with people more.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 2 - Campus, Downtown

Here are the results from today's run. I began on campus near the art building and continued towards downtown until I hit the mall (the checkered sidewalk there is unsuitable to write on with chalk, and there are persistent street-sweeping crews).

Audience interaction was relatively minimal. Those people who did notice I was doing something out of the ordinary generally tried to pretend nothing was going on at all. One person expressed discomfort at my proximity to them: they were sitting and eating next to the two discarded drink cups in the fourth photograph and would not meet my gaze.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Project #1: Day 1 - Prelude

Been thinking about a few options for Project #1.

1) Stand around on the mall, looking up at a specific point on a building, possibly pointing occasionally at said spot. Predicted audience response: some of them will look up as well.

2) On the mall again, stepping over invisible obstructions on the sidewalk. A mime-esque routine where I would interact with objects that aren't really there.

3) You know those chalk outlines at murder scenes? I'm going to draw those, but around pieces of litter instead of corpses - treating discarded waste as if it were on the same level as human remains. I may or may not remove the litter after outlining it in chalk.

I decided to go with option number 3, repeating it in different places over a three day period. After discussing the project with an activist friend who's providing temporary housing for traveling protesters, I decided to perform this activity several days prior to the actual DNC. It's going to be packed downtown during the convention, and I'm not putting myself at risk to be shot by microwave or pepper guns.

I'll update tomorrow with pictures of the first run.