Location: University of Wollongong
Company: Barry (student from the indigenous centre)
Feeling: Happy to be alive but emotionally exhausted after all those hugs
A lazy Friday with the weather being so good just to kick back and sleep in. unfortunately, though I had to get up and go to a lecture but because of the comfortableness of the weather I slept in and missed it (thank you my bed for being so good). After missing the lecture (YEAH ya) I waited outside for my mate to come around and help me in my social walk which was so good but extremely tiring at the end, in the end though I got the result I needed.
For my second walking activity, I have taken to Wollongong universities camps. Starting from the top at the indigenous centre and finish close to the bottom at the engineering department I decide to continue following the advice of one of my classmate who told me to ‘follow the hug’ for this part of the exercise. Reason being because the camps have a lot more people walking about on Friday and unlike crown street which is only a straight line from the top to the bottom. The camps break up and has different intersections leading to different part of the camps but still interconnected to lead to certain point around the Uni, which was perfect to take me on quite a journey on the day.
With the assistance of my mate ‘Barry’ and the borrowed camera from the art building, we began our journey from the front door of the centre and began to head towards people walking along the footpath at which point we came in contact with our first subject. Following the same routine as the one I did on Crown-street where I would negotiate for a hug first then use the poster on the way back, I beckoned the girl that we encountered for only a hug. Surprisingly though she agreed with only a question to why but accepting the answer, it was a good start.
It was brilliant because not long after another girl came along and she agreed without a thought and from there I began to follow the crowd but most of all the hugs which most people agreed to. It leads me and ‘Barry’ zig-zagging through the Uni as each person we encountered agreed without hesitation to a hug, it was literally every threw minutes someone new came around and sometimes they would say no but they mostly all said yes. With each encounter we made, we would always follow on from the path they came from or the path that the people were on that asked for a hug.
People saw what I and ‘Barry’ were doing and would ask us for a hug. It even got to the point where I didn’t even have to say a thing and just hug the next person behind the one I was hugging. It started an amazing chain that not only did I hug the students but also the gardeners, movers, teachers from all the department, pretty much everyone on camp.
Once a got to the area around the library (which was one of the busy area’s) I didn’t even have to say much as the chain of hugs bouncing from one person to the next was enough to move me and everyone around to what I was doing (which really I was just walking and hugging).
I knew that the people who wanted a hug would stretch out their arms to either side and approach me with a smile which was the suggestion of the hugs that everybody wanted from me. Everybody who I saw had a good laugh and an amazing smile that went all around to everyone I saw and came into contact with.
Even more surprisingly though was the fact that I forgot all about ‘Barry’ when we were in the library area, as each hug I gave I completely lost myself following where the hugs lead me but most of all I didn’t even recall hearing ‘Barry’ asking permission for the photos that he was taking of the other student. Of course, he did ask some of the people we encounter but I think he went quit because of all the number we were getting, even more so was the fact that people didn’t mind it because they all really just wanted a nice hug that even I have to say that some gave really good ones. Not 10 out 10s but good enough to be at the top.
If matching the amount of force I applied to my hug wasn’t hard enough I was getting so many people to hug me that it was getting a little harder to keep the tally system up to date with each hug leading to a random person coming out of nowhere asking for the hug instead of me doing so. It was still really fun though following each hug that leads me and ‘Barry’ from left to right to straight through, to even coming in contact with some of my other teacher which was even more hilarious. Unfortunately, ‘Barry’ didn’t take the picture of me and Jo (teacher from the art department) doing a little dance of hugs and fear, very funny stuff. As we continued following the hug we finally reached the engineering department’s front door which signalled our climb back up. It was great fun doing that walking and so fantastic embracing the aura of each person we came in contact and feeling their happiness and my happiness pass through each.
Now came the time of the poster which I pulled out of my left pocket. I was a bit nerve of this seeing that it didn’t go so well yesterday and I was still shaking it off a bit. So as a warm up I decided to hang around the engineering area to get the feel of how many people agreed if the question was more direct and visible. It turns out that it wasn’t that bad as I still got the couple no’s but there was so many people agreeing that it built up my confidence and then I was back in the zone.
We decide that instead of following the hug back we chose to retrace our steps to the centre which was still cool because I could then estimate the time it took for either walk and which one took the least amount of time.
The climb back up was smooth and we even passed the people we hug before and they still agreed to it again. We even passed Jo who still said no but not Agnieszka (another teacher from arts) who said, “hell yeah” and this time ‘Barry’ got the shot.
We got back to the library area and it was still bustling as before and just like before I got so many hugs that it started a chain again that I didn’t even need the poster for the most part. It was amazing but then while we were hanging around there, ‘Barry’ went to go and get an apple from the café that asked for any sort of coin, which was quite a good deal. So he went off to get one and I stood in the centre of the court continuing my hugs. Until suddenly I’m hit by this tiredness. I wasn’t outer breath or exhausted from the walk I was just tired and worn out from all the hugs I was giving. Physically I was fine but emotionally I could barely keep up but I knew I had to keep going because I was only half way there to the centre. As ‘Barry’ returned from his apple shopping we headed off back up the hill.
Continuing to receive hugs from each person we passed by I came in eye contact with this girl in a class who seemed to be giving a presentation. Immidally I showed her the stuff, and by stuff I mean the poster and she giggled then with a tilt of her head or hand (it was one of those not sure which) I walked into the building then towards their class. At first, I think she thought I wouldn’t do it but then again she had never met me before.
I stood at the door with the poster on my chest and the girl presenting laughing with the crowd and I looked towards the teacher who gave me a smile and then I looked back at the girl who was presenting and I knew that she approved of what was about to go down. I slow crept into the class looking around before back at the girl I saw through the window, the themselves saying, ‘do it, do it’ even the teacher got in on the crowd. And so the girl walked over and then we hugged it out in the warmest embracing of my day. The classroom cheered and the teacher approved and so did the other girls I hugged there. As I slowly exited through the door a guy came up and gave me one last hug before I left the room saying thank you and goodbye and good luck to the girls presenting. It was safe to say that my hug had to lead me into that classroom, worth it.
Returning back on to the footpath leading back to the centre the number of people we came in contact started to go down but the energy was still electric as each person we drew near grew a smile that glowed so bright that I yet again forgot that ‘Barry’. Oh well, at least the people were enjoying my poster and humour and I think ‘Barry’ too.
With only being a few steps away from the centre, the last bunch we came in contact with where the most outrages and fun loving people to have the last hugs with and share the final moment with them. Especially the last hug from my friend ‘Teisha’ who I saw in the corner of my eye strutting her way to the centre as well and I knew that she had to be the last hug and the best hug to wrap it up. Sure enough, it was a ‘Teisha’ and Harry hug that could not have ended any other way.
With the final photo taken and the camera returned before 12 I was set to go about my day as usual and return to class after a short rest at the centre in my corner. However, after the walk, I felt exhausted and finding the will to smile let alone move. As I felt fine physically but emotionally I was drained of my energy as it was back at the front library on our return to the centre. Could it have been the Friday bug or just that I was tired of the week, either way after my walk on Thursday I felt the same way as I did now? Tired from all those hugs.
This anomaly got me think of ‘Walter Benjamin work of mechanical reproduction’ and the existence of the aura of an artist and their work. Of how what an artist creates is the reflection of themselves and there for is the embodiment of their existence but what of Kaprow. Where the ‘social engaging artist’ or SEA is the artwork in motion where they exist within their work itself and that their Aura is stretched out to the alluring audience but to what extent does the artist take before they are pushed to their limit. After all, we are all unique in both the warmth we give to others and presence we have on in a space, where a room is not the same room filled if not all the element is not present to say it is. Everything has its presence within a space and affects it differently so the same must be said for my walking hugs. Every hug my seem the same but they are different with each individual and there required a certain approach to each individual both physically and emotionally.
In conclusion, I have deducted that my tiredness came from over using the powers of a hug and how it is not just a physical form but rather the conjoining of two people’s aura becoming as one for that breath moment of sharing one another company. To sharing the space around where it is change and different with each encounter I made on my walk.