As a means of communicating with a viewer/audience, I went into the public. Curious participants were instructed to choose 6 of the color swatches & I would make a collage for them. The idea was to have an earnest, sincere exchange between people--one that involved experience, dialogue, reciprocation & an object. I would inscribe a message to each participant thanking them for their help in making the piece, include some referent to what we spoke about, sign it, date it & give it to them. I did not document any of these collages as they were as much the participants' work as they were my own. Instead, I documented the encounter. Here is an excerpt:
Oct. 11 2007
Today was a weird day. I received a phone call that was someone looking for Michael, which is my first name, so I told her that I was he. She sort of gasped and hung up. Then, while walking to the Student Center, a man yelled at me from the window of his friend's SUV. Needless to say, the collage endeavor was a strange one.
A guy asked me what I was doing (I was making a collage for Mark Ponder). I told him I was making things for people if they picked 6 colors out of my briefcase. I'd make a collage that you could have for free. To keep. He laughed and walked away. It wasn't a bemused laughter, more amused and that was slightly detrimental to my morale. (much like the drive by insults)
Strange enough, Erica showed up again to see how things were going. Well, she was already there, but she stopped by. We talked for a while and I worked on the collage for Mark. We talked about the pointlessness of your GPA and some problems with the education system. She said most of her learning was achieved outside of the college setting. Assigned reading and writing were more distractions than anything. I said I like the "learn by doing" mentality.
We were interrupted by the man next to us who was wearing a New Castle ball cap. He asked me what "this was all about" so I said I was making things for people if they picked 6 colors. He picked 5 in under 30 seconds. One of them was face down. I said I needed one more, Erica helped him pick & then excused herself so I could work. Then the man disappeared into the men's room. While he was in there, a woman came by and asked if what I was making was sentimental. I said it could be if one chooses to keep it. Is it a bookmark? I said it could be if you put it in a book.
She took one of the paper templates, tore it in half vertically and drew an angular design on it. She gave it back to me while I was working on the one for the man who was still gone. She told me she wanted a bookmark and that the design was just a starting point, I could put any number of colors within the shapes she had made. I said great.
I was about half done with the man's collage when he returned (he was probably gone around 10 or more minutes). It seemed that the two knew each other. She asked to see how his was coming, asked him his sign--Libra. Libra's like turquoise she said, but she put an H at the end. Ter-koish. Libras like that terkoish. You should have him add a terkoish in there if you can find one. It'll speak to your soul, that terkoish.
So he searched until he found a blue that he responded to and I added it ( !! a 7th color!).
A disabled man asked me what I was doing. I told him about picking colors and making things and was a bit worried about getting really busy alluvasudden. I will admit I thought I would have to assist him in choosing his colors, which made me anxious, but he said he did not have enough time today but would be interested. I told him to keep looking for me, every once in a while I pop up. He began to move along, then stopped and asked why I was doing this and I said for me, for other people mainly. Just to make things for people. It's a service to humanity he said. I think it's something I said. It sure is, God bless you. Off he went
The other two kept talking to one another while I worked. I finished the man's collage (7 colors in all), so I asked his name.
Ok, King David.
The woman next to him said King DaviD not King DaviS.
Dee ay vee eye dee?
Ok. (Isn't that what I said?)
He thanked me, I thanked him. He left and I started on the woman's bookmark whie she worked on someting else. She asked me if I was American. I said yes. What state?
Central, near Decatur, an hour south of Champaign.
Oh, my neice lives in Quincy.
I got back to work.
A girl walking by took my picture. I am in her phone. She liked my FREE sign, but did not sit down.
It was fun to have a different template to start with. Maybe more people should change what I do. I finished it, asked her name and signed it. She spelled her name out on a piece of paper and was confused that I didn't take it as reference on how to spell it. It wasn't necessary I said.
I think she may have given me her granddaughter's name so that she could present it to her, but she told me that after the fact, so the note was directed to her under the assumption that she had given me her name.
A younger man walked up and said he had half an hour, what's the deal? I said I'd make him collage if he picked six colors. I said my goodbyes to the woman and sat down. He had picked 6 pink and red colors. I said I had a class at 5, I figured he did too, so I would do my best to make it snappy. He said he was waiting on his girlfriend to pick him up.
Oh, so these must be colors you picked out for her.
I told him that was really nice. His name is Christian. My name is Ben.
A girl walked by that he knew. He's a poli-sci junior. He's starting a new frat, so homecoming weekend was fun. He thinks he'll have to keep this collage so that ten years from now he can make some serious money off of it. (A lot like laughing) I said he could keep his girlfriend's number in his cell phone, it wouldn't take up much space, so if he had to track it down, it would be possible. Or, y'know, things could work out and they could both have some money from it or something. He agreed, things could work out.
I asked to have her name so I could put it on the front of the collage. I wrote him a note, signed and dated the piece and he left. I wrote a note on the back of Mark's, spoke with Lucas and Pale and we walked over to class. I wished I had purchased a coffee.