Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bench Culture

Today, when I should have been working (see yesterday's post for my laziness justification), I found myself fascinated by this photo experiment from the creators of The Plug. Basically, these folks tied a disposable camera to a public bench and left a note asking strangers to take pictures. Amazing but true, the camera was not stolen. Even more amazing, people complied, taking pictures of their companions, themselves, their pets, their kids, bikes, traffic lights...I'm assuming anything within the range of the string.

Why is this so interesting to me? First, I love art which engages the audience--and, yes, I would consider this an "art" project, even though the results are less than professional. Second, I love art in unexpected, non-arty places. Third, these people participated in a piece of art that they would probably never see again. That's a pretty cool, unselfish thing to do. Also, the string acted as a sort of frame for what was captured, so that the individual photos fit together to create a particular atmosphere and sense of place.

Apparently, though, I am not the only one so enamored with this project. Glamour blogger Joanna Goddard decided to do the same thing, and was just as amazed by her results. The subjects of the pictures are, for the most part, similar: people, dogs, nature, the surrounding area. But the atmosphere is decidedly different...darker, more indicative of New York, as opposed to the sunnier vibe of the Atlanta photos.

I wonder what results other spaces and places would ilicit. Would a camera left in San Francisco capture its misty, earthy essence? Would one left in Phoenix be more desert or concrete? And what about a small town, like my own? Would it even work here, or does this type of experiment neccesitate a larger city, where anonymity is the norm? If you are tempted, like me, to try this out in your own city, please share the results!

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