Starting Location: free bus stops out side of innovation campus
Ending Location: University bus bay
Tuesday arvo after my tutoring with my tut I set out to meet up with Jane who I agreed that we would meet at the agreeable time of 12:30 at the front of innovation campus. We were fresh with idea’s and eager to get into the project as only the week before we where thrown together and still deciding on how we were going to approach this task at hand. We figured that we would serve food to the people at the bus bays but as we went along through the day we discovered that probably wasn’t the way.
Meeting up with Jane we decide to ride the bus and talk with the passengers on board (after a brief moment of deciding what we were going to do). We would do this in two parts where one of us would have a yarn with them and what would be nice to have during and pre there bus ride and we discuss about our assessment to them and get their opinion. While that was going on the other person would take photos of the conversation between there partner and the other passenger.
We passed the camera between each other and took turn talking to the other passengers until we came to a stop where I would hold the camera (because I knew how to use it) and Jane would be in charge of talking to the other people (because she’s normal and I’m not when talking to other people), it was a mutual agreement and we found this way a lot easier to power through each people we encountered. It also gave us an understanding of both or strength and weakness of how we approach the next encounter out on the field.
We road the bus for about an hour which is the full loop of its journey but we had to stop as Jane discovered that sitting in a moving metal tin did not agree with my stomach (sorry but yes I suffer from motion sickness, not pretty). So we stopped the task at the uni and decide to call it before we could complete the full route. But in the end we had received great result in both the people we talked with which inspired us to come up with something solid for the task but most importantly we came to release that our idea is related to that of a pilgrim and in most cases of the idea of ‘all road’s lead to Rome’.
We headed back to the Uni for one last try at collecting data as per the plan and after half an hour or more of knock backs we all agreed that a different approach was needed it was time for a new form of collaboration. It was Xanders suggestion that rather than just harassing people on the street so to speak that we take our survey to our friends or a collective group of people that would be more inclined to answer our survey in a more suitable and collaborative manner. We let Xander take the lead as he felt he could capture an audience of ten or more people by visiting just one house. It was worth a shot as time was running out and we still had to address the issue of how we were going to present our project. Our original idea had been to present a poster that would demonstrate different facts about the audience such as age, gender, location of interview etc, but as we were in the process of changing where we were going to collect our data our presentation idea seemed to be losing its validity. We needed a more direct way of communicating our result’s, the idea was hatched about running an audio recording for the presentation. Rather than try and visually display our results, we planned to set up a speaker and have it playing the audio recordings that had been collected. With his skills in sound editing Xander spliced together the recordings so that all the voice recordings followed one another in a single stream then we could put the audio recording on a continuous loop for the audience to listen to. And that’s the form our final presentation took.
Now the time had come to take our little survey to a bigger broader audience of the Crown Street Mall. We had initially planned to position ourselves near the fountain at the lower end of the Mall but with rain dampening our plans we decided to shift indoors at the opposite end of the Mall, this shift created some additional problems as we now had to share a space with other people who were doing something similar to what we wanted to do. Shifting our project to the Mall increased the difficulties we were having getting people to partake in the survey, most people just didn’t want to know what we were doing or were not prepared to take the time to answer our questions.
In her article ‘Complications; On Collaboration, Agency and Contemporary Art’ Maria Lind states that “Collaboration is without a doubt a central method in contemporary art today.” Certainly with our project collaboration is central to the outcome for what we were seeking, the only problem is getting the collaboration between ourselves and our audience to flow enough to actually get a result that we can put forward for our presentation. While not being a total waste of time, the Mall had failed to deliver the real answers that we were seeking. Out of the couple of participants that did stop to answer our questions the only feedback we got was more in the form of what type of socially engaged art they had experienced rather than what they thought would make for a quality socially engaged art project. What we really needed was a better way of collaborating with our audience.
Lind, A 2005 ‘Complications; On Collaboration, Agency and Contemporary Art’ The Finnish Art Review, no. 6, January 2007, pp. 56-59.
Survey at the University of Wollongong
We started our survey at the first site outside the creative arts building, the going was slow our reluctance to approach people was obverse as time ticked by we remained empty handed. Our first participant proved to be little help, maybe we didn’t present our predicament well but the response was more in the form of encouragement for our assignment rather than ideas for what we should do. He suggested that we try a different location and after another twenty minutes or so and a few more knock backs that’s what we decided to do. Our next location would be out the front of the uow library. It must be said that this type of data collection is greatly affected by the weather conditions and in this case our cause was not being helped by cold grey sky’s, still we pushed on. To be effectively able to collect data of this nature requires a certain approach, friendly and open without being intimidating, some people are just naturally better at it than others. Our little group was to struggle to meet the demands of the task we had set for ourselves. The second location proved to be a little more fruitful, securing a couple of voice recordings thanks to a couple of Xanders friends that came along. This was to prove our saving grace for round 1, we decided to call it a day and hope for more favorable results for the next location.
Allan Kaprow states in his article ‘Just doing’ that ”playing with everyday life often is just paying attention to what is conventionally hidden”(Kaprow 1997 p.104). Through our little exercise it did seem that what we were trying to reveal what is conventionally hidden by everyday life. Through the audience we are trying to uncover answers that already exist, that exist within the audience. So in a sense it does feel like that Kaprow’s statement does apply to our situation and that we are in deed not only paying attention to what is conventionally hidden but unearthing answers from a reluctant audience.
Kaprow, A 1997 ‘Just doing’, TDR, Vol .41, No. 3, pp. 101-106.
This project begun with a great deal of uncertainty, an initial brainstorming exercise gave us a couple of ideas regarding surveillance cameras but the concepts felt a little flimsy. So we decided to hit the streets to see if we could find some inspiration. A twenty walk around the UOW campus and bus shelters failed to reveal anything worth pursuing in the way of concepts, so a second trip was planned to the Wollongong Gallery to see if that might help with some ideas. The trip went well and we enjoyed the exhibitions that were on display but still we came away empty handed with no concrete concept to work with. At this stage we turned to Bianca in desperation, she looked at our problem from a different angle, what if we could somehow turn our predicament into our solution, instead of trying to think up a concept of our own we could turn to the public for a solution. Feeling encouraged we decided to push ahead with the idea and made plans for a survey style questionnaire to put to the public. The concept was simple, explain to people that we were arts students on a quest to find a good idea for an assignment regarding social intersectionality and what would they do if they were in our predicament or what they thought would be a good idea for this assignment then record their answers on a voice recording device. We didn’t know it yet but we were about to embark on journey that would turn into a form of psychological derive with problems forcing us to alter course to get a satisfactory result. So now we had our concept it was time to plan how we would collect the information from the public, we decided that we should target three different locations. The first would be a site on the UOW campus, maybe outside the creative arts building so we could take advantage of the type of audience that would be passing by. The second site would be in the Crown street mall just near were the fountains are. And the third site would be just outside the Wollongong Gallery. It seemed straight forward enough now all we had to do was ask the questions. Allan Kaprow states in his article just doing that “the playground for experimental art is ordinary life”(Kaprow 1997 p.103). But does this statement ring true for our own predicament. The type of art project that we were attempting certainly felt like experimental art but are we using ordinary life to cultivate our ideas.
Kaprow, A 1997 ‘Just doing’, TDR, Vol .41, No. 3, pp. 101-106.