Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Have a Seat!
Have a Seat: Caroline Woolard’s Project at ConFlux: the annual NYC festival for contemporary psychogeography where international artists, technologists, urban adventurers and the public put investigations of everyday city life into practice on the streets. In Brooklyn, NY from September 14-17, 2006.
Have a Seat is Caroline Woolard’s gesture towards reclaiming public space. It is a platform for a new vantage point on the street. As seating bolted to no parking signs in New York, Have a Seat offers rest and contemplation in transitional spaces. Installed for ConFlux in Brooklyn from September 14-17, these temporary seats are the culmination of three years of prototypes in New York and Rhode Island.
In the city, the street should be a destination in itself. Many people use the street to get from one place to another, but it is an invaluable arena for immediate interaction. Instead of walking to a park or other zone calculated for relaxation, Have a Seat serves those people who want to pause amidst action for a direct perspective on the momentum of the city. The seat is a signal at the scale of the human body in a city of buildings that consume space and light at the expense of pedestrians who are swept forward by wind tunnels in the shadow of skyscrapers. Unlike monuments that overpower people in scale and pretension, these wooden chairs wait to be used by a single body on the street.
Have a Seat makes everyday environments strange, pushing for a moment to reevaluate the monotony of consistent routine. Robert Musil writes, in The Man Without Qualities:
“Everything we feel and do is somehow oriented “lifeward,” and the least deviation away from this direction toward something beyond is difficult or alarming. This is true even of the simple act of walking: one lifts one’s center of gravity, pushes it forward, and lets it drop again- and the slightest change, the merest hint of shrinking from this letting-oneself0drop-into-the-future, or even of stopping to wonder at it- and one can no longer stand upright! Stopping to think is dangerous.”
This project celebrates individuals actively shaping shared space and the interactions in it. It encourages pedestrians to stop and think. Although disembodied conversations (Blackberry, cell phone, etc) and narrative accompaniment (iPods) inevitably insulate individuals from this reality, I hope that a symbol of rest amidst action allows some people to create immediate connection with the street.
Posted by Caroline Woolard at Tuesday, August 29, 2006