Tagged: Activity

Talking Small

The Activity

 

This activity is: talking to strangers about the weather.

 

The Rules

 

1. Anyone whose name you do not know is a Stranger.

2. Anytime you come into contact with a Stranger you must at some point

comment about the weather.

3. ‘Contact’ is any point where you communicate with a Stranger; either verbally

as in ordering food or asking directions, or non-verbally as in a smile or a nod.

4. One must attempt to sound sincere when commenting on the weather, it is

therefore a good idea to know what the current weather actually is.

5. Some examples of weather commentary are as follows:

a) “Nice weather we’re getting!” (Enthusiastic, best for full sun, add 10%

to enthusiasm level for each day it has been raining prior to the sunny

day)

b) “Nice weather we’re getting.” (Sarcastic, best for rain)

c) “How about this weather?” (Genuinely questioning)

d) “How about this weather.” (Authoritarian, maintain full eye-contact)

e) “Hot enough for ya?” (Jocular, best used on members of same sex to

avoid accusations of romantic intention)

f) “How long do you think this weather will last?” (Inquisitive and open-

ended, be prepared for follow up conversation)

6. Record each conversation with an audio recorder, if one is not available to you

simply remember the result and document it by writing down the dialogue in

a diary. Remember to include the state of the weather; the date; the location

of the conversation; the exact nature of your relationship to the Stranger; what

you said about the weather; and what their response was.

7. Follow these rules for a predetermined amount of time, one week is

reasonable, the more encounters and the longer the time spent the better and

more varied the results will be.

 

Results

 

Happening One

Location: Wollongong University Administration Building

Time and Date: Monday 12th March, Approximately 2.00pm

Weather Condition: Partly Cloudy

Description: My first happening occurred before I had distinguished the exact rules I was going to use, while I was waiting my turn in line to see a secretary there was a large man of Indian appearance waiting before me. The secretary left the room to attend to one of his requests, and seeing that I was waiting he felt embarrassed for taking so long and attempted to make friendly conversation with me.

Dialogue:

Stranger: Uhh I think there’s normally more than more person on the desk.

Me: Aw yeah it’s all good I’m in no hurry. How about this weather we’re getting?

S: I’m just waiting for my *incomprehensible mumbles* (it was obvious he hadn’t heard me clearly either, there was some communication barrier as English was not his first language and my English is filled with slang and generally pronounced poorly and rapidly)

M: Oh yeah I gotchya, this weather’s kind of strange though yeah?

S: Yes it is. The sun was out before though.

M: Yeah it kind of looks like the afternoon now though, even though it’s *takes out phone to check time*…oh wow it’s only two o’clock, looks much later than that.

S: Ah yes, but the afternoon might clear up a bit.

At this point the conversation began to wane, the Stranger took out his keys and began to examine them closely, and I took out my phone and pretended to be text messaging.

 

 

Happening Two

Location: McDonalds Engadine Drive Through

Time and Date: Tuesday 13th March, 8.50am

Weather Condition: Early morning sun

Description: I was in my car and had just ordered and paid for McDonalds breakfast, I pulled up to the window to receive my food and there was a lady likely aged in her mid-forties that handed me my food.

Dialogue:

S: Bacon and Egg McMuffin Meal with a Coke?

M: Yup.

S: Do you need a holder for that? (referring to the cup)

M: No I’ll be fine thanks. How about this weather hey?

S: Yeah it’s good. Hopefully it stays that way. Have a nice day.

The conversation was quite rushed as she seemed quite busy.

 

Happening Three

Location:  Coffee Shop outside Wollongong University Library

Time and Date: Thursday 14th March, 9.25am

Weather Condition: Partly Cloudy

Description: I was ordering a cup of tea from a girl in her twenties, there was a line behind me.

Dialogue:

M: Hello can I just get a green tea please?

S: Sure that will be three dollars.

M: *hands over money* hope the weather is nice today.

S: Yeah.

I shuffled along to await my beverage, I believe she was brief because she was either a) busy, b) didn’t care, or c) thought I was hitting on her.

 

Happening Four

Location:  The Fish Mine, Helensburgh CBD

Time and Date: Thursday, 15th March, 2.15pm

Weather Condition: Sunny, after rain.

Description: I had just ordered and paid for fish and chips. There was a man of about thirty working at the counter, and a woman aged roughly forty making the fish. The man is Stranger 1 and the woman is Stranger 2.

Dialogue:

M: This weather’s a bit of alright yeah?

Stranger 1: Yeah it’s been a nice change.

Stranger 2: They say it won’t last but!

S1: Ahh we can but hope.

M: Haha I think it will hold up.

S2: Here’s hoping, have a nice day love.

I then exited the fish shop.

 

Happening Five

Location: Engadine KFC Ordering Box in Drive Through

Time and Date: Friday 16th March, 1.00pm

Weather Condition: Clear skies

Description: I had just ordered my lunch from the radio box at KFC when I decided to try a new form of Happening, I decided to ask voice box thing (really need to learn what that’s called) how the weather was. This was strange because as it is technically a machine we’re communicating with no one ever says anything to it except what they want to order. I myself was tentative as to whether the machine would even understand my non-menu language and if it had the autonomy to form an opinion on the weather and answer in form.

Dialogue:

S: Hello can I take your order please.

M: *order omitted for modesty’s sake*

S: Yup that will be *price omitted for modesty’s sake*, please drive through.

M: Ok, nice weather we’re having isn’t it?

S: Um, yeah it is, please drive through.

I drove away therefore ending the conversation. The man I gave the money to gave me a funny look, maybe the machine told him I was strange.

Happening Six

Location:  A house party in Redfern, close to Sydney University

Time and Date: Friday, 16th March, 12.00pm

Weather Condition: Night-time, dark, possibly cloudy

Description: I ended up talking to a man roughly twenty years old at a party, he and I were both drunk and since I did not know his name I asked him about the weather.

Dialogue:

M: Hey how’s this weather getting  yeah!?

S: Uh yeah.

The conversation ended after that, even though it had been previously flowing fine, we both went our separate ways.

 

Conclusion

The quote I most wanted to engage with was form Kaprow’s idea of the Universal (2003, pp196), as he says (in relation to breathing): “Universals (shareables) are plentiful. From this point on, as far as the artist is concerned, it is a question of allowing those features of breathing (or whatever) to join into a performable plan that may reach acutely into a participant’s own sense of it and resonate its implications”.

I disliked the idea of the happening as an “inside joke” for only the artist and his cohorts to enjoy. Although brushing my teeth consciously was enjoyable, I felt elevated over the people that came in to use the bathroom and were confused by my actions, they themselves not being conscious of the artwork in the social around them. I decided that my happening would seek to include, and indeed need, another person to perform. I also believe that each person must come into awareness of his own accord, and as such I felt it necessary that the other person, or the Stranger, would become aware that something was amiss in their own mind without me, or Kaprow, prompting to think that way. To do this I wanted to make a performable plan that would allow another participant to “sense of it and resonate its implications” without having to be fully aware of the full movement of Happenings. In doing this I like to think that I did not fully alert them to their breathing, as I now am, as that spoils the art in that I am changing it by observing it.

For these reasons I chose talking about the weather, as in the everyday it often comes naturally, but when forced, when performed, it becomes slightly surreal. I could tell that the unaware participants were becoming slightly aware that something was not completely natural in my dialogue, and several times I believe they found this disturbing and sought to end the conversation. I think that I caused them to wonder why I was asking about the weather, which might lead them to a new appreciation, or fear of, talking small.

Sources:

Kaprow, A, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life,  ed. Jeff Kelly, 2003

Listening & Writing – Day Five

THE ACTIVITY

Technology/items required:
• A Sound recording device + Headphones
• Alarm for 10 minutes
• Pen + Paper

1.Each day at exactly the same time, for five consecutive days (Monday – Friday), travel to a specific location that intrigues you. You will arrive at this same location over the five days.
2. Get into a comfortable position, Press record on the sound recording device and start an alarm for a duration of 10 minutes. Sit in silence, Listen while closely watching the timer on the alarm.
3.Using the pen and paper, Script out every significant sound you hear – Recording both the time you initially heard the sound and a description of the sound.
Example: A dog barks – 3 minutes 25 seconds
[Continue until Alarm, then stop the recording]
4. Return home, playback the 10 minute recording. Read the notes you jotted down and follow along
with the recording as if your reading a script to a drama performance. Write down the additional sounds that you missed during the initial listening.

DOCUMENTATION – DAY 5

The 10 minute recording – Day Five – 8:30 PM

 

While listening to the recording on Sound cloud, follow along with this literal documentation I have written up. Treat it like a script - using the time recorded on the right column to prompt when each sound begins. Click this thumbnail to view a more readable version of the image.

 

While listening to the recording on Sound cloud, follow along with this literal documentation I have written up. Treat it like a script - using the time recorded on the right column to prompt when each sound begins. Click this thumbnail to view a more readable version of the image.

 

 

Reflections –

Today my activity was sabotaged by a affectionate cat who kept meowing/purring for attention through out the activity. However I maintain to my activity procedure and made sure i didn’t stop writing down the sounds I heard and when they occurred. Other then the mischievous feline, there was actually a lot of activity that occurred during the 10 minuts. One of the most interesting moments was when a neighbour from where I was located returned home in their car. I got to listen to the mundane procedure of them turning their car into the driveway, opening the garage door, driving their car in and then getting out and going about their own business. Like the first day, I felt like a voyeurist  as I listen and analyse such a mundane routine they probably do everyday.

This was the final day of my activity, I can now say that I’ve learnt quite a bit from my experiences in regards to how much we miss out on in our surroundings due to ‘selective hearing’ which takes control during everyday life. I recommend other people just stop what they are doing for a few moments, close their eyes and listen to what is happening in the world around you. Meditate and let the sounds paint visions of what is happening around you in your mind. Its quite beautiful if you think of the ambience  as a music score or theatrical production.

Listening & Writing – Day Four

THE ACTIVITY

Technology/items required:
• A Sound recording device + Headphones
• Alarm for 10 minutes
• Pen + Paper

1.Each day at exactly the same time, for five consecutive days (Monday – Friday), travel to a specific location that intrigues you. You will arrive at this same location over the five days.
2. Get into a comfortable position, Press record on the sound recording device and start an alarm for a duration of 10 minutes. Sit in silence, Listen while closely watching the timer on the alarm.
3.Using the pen and paper, Script out every significant sound you hear – Recording both the time you initially heard the sound and a description of the sound.
Example: A dog barks – 3 minutes 25 seconds
[Continue until Alarm, then stop the recording]
4. Return home, playback the 10 minute recording. Read the notes you jotted down and follow along
with the recording as if your reading a script to a drama performance. Write down the additional sounds that you missed during the initial listening.

DOCUMENTATION – DAY 4

The 10 minute recording – Day Four – 8:30 PM

 

While listening to the recording on Sound cloud, follow along with this literal documentation I have written up. Treat it like a script - using the time recorded on the right column to prompt when each sound begins. Click this thumbnail to view a more readable version of the image.
While listening to the recording on Sound cloud, follow along with this literal documentation I have written up. Treat it like a script - using the time recorded on the right column to prompt when each sound begins. Click this thumbnail to view a more readable version of the image.

 

 

Reflections

Today was a nice change as I could hear a violent storm in the distance, although the booming of the thunder tended to dominate this activity. As you would expect with storms, there was quite a bit of dog barking going on in reaction to the thunder.

 

Listening & Writing – Day Three

THE ACTIVITY

Technology/items required:
• A Sound recording device + Headphones
• Alarm for 10 minutes
• Pen + Paper

1.Each day at exactly the same time, for five consecutive days (Monday – Friday), travel to a specific location that intrigues you. You will arrive at this same location over the five days.
2. Get into a comfortable position, Press record on the sound recording device and start an alarm for a duration of 10 minutes. Sit in silence, Listen while closely watching the timer on the alarm.
3.Using the pen and paper, Script out every significant sound you hear – Recording both the time you initially heard the sound and a description of the sound.
Example: A dog barks – 3 minutes 25 seconds
[Continue until Alarm, then stop the recording]
4. Return home, playback the 10 minute recording. Read the notes you jotted down and follow along
with the recording as if your reading a script to a drama performance. Write down the additional sounds that you missed during the initial listening.

DOCUMENTATION – DAY THREE

The 10 minute recording – Day 3 – 8:30 PM

 

While listening to the recording on Sound cloud, follow along with this literal documentation I have written up. Treat it like a script - using the time recorded on the right column to prompt when each sound begins. Click this thumbnail to view a more readable version of the image.While listening to the recording on Sound cloud, follow along with this literal documentation I have written up. Treat it like a script - using the time recorded on the right column to prompt when each sound begins. Click this thumbnail to view a more readable version of the image.
While listening to the recording on Sound cloud, follow along with this literal documentation I have written up. Treat it like a script - using the time recorded on the right column to prompt when each sound begins. Click this thumbnail to view a more readable version of the image.