In our society today, with the vast number of choices we are expected to make, we can often be overwhelmed. When we want to buy a computer, the daunting task of sifting through comparisons of high retina displays and processing power can leave us feeling drained and confused. When we turn on a TV, every twenty minutes or less we would be bombarded with advertisers touting their new products, adding to the slurry of information we either attempt to remember when purchasing the item or forget altogether. Even deciding what to wear or what to eat each morning can be a frustrating task, no matter how many times we've gone through it before.
All these choices, all these paths...but do we really feel "free" when we are presented with ten different shampoo companies we can choose from? Do these choices liberate or confine us in their overwhelming numbers?
My interest in exploring that question, along with the contrasting notions of freedom of choice vs. freedom from choice, gave rise to this final project. By giving someone else free rein over this project and myself, would I feel liberated? Because creating art has so many possibilities that arise from each single choice we make, I wanted to use this performance piece as a platform for investigating the notion of freedom from choice.
Equipped with my iPad, phone, and a few recording devices on me and around the room, I've allowed someone else to dictate my words and actions throughout the entirety of this class. From choosing my clothes to telling me specifically what to say, this separate person is making all the decisions for me.
I had set up a voice recorder, a Google+ hangout, and a camcorder in the class, ready to record anything and everything that will happen. Unfortunately, the camcorder was moved at the very beginning of class, so most of the "action" commands were not recorded. The Google+ hangout was originally supposed to be screen recorded on the other end, but it had been shut off from the on start as well. Thus, I can only provide you with some emailed instructions, chat commands, a quick clipping of my friend Nellie's voice commands, and a video recording of the latter half of class.
Emailed instructions for 11:00am - 12:00pm:
- Don't laugh
- If you really have to laugh, either laugh hysterically or just say “ha. ha. ha.”
Instructions from 11:00 – 12:00:
- When you first enter the classroom, sit down as close to the middle as you can. Turn to the person next to them and ask “What's your name?” If they ask what your name is, say “Yidan.” Ask them how they are liking Brown. Say “Really?!” to their response, then turn around and pretend to be involved with your iPad. Ignore them.
- If someone tries to talk to you, start coughing. If they persist, say “I'm sorry, I can't hear you.” If they keep talking, say, “what?” and keep saying “what?” until they stop talking to you.
- If someone makes eye contact with you, stare them in the eye and force them to look away first.
- At 11:10, stare at the ceiling for ten seconds.
- At 11:15, sit cross-legged for a couple of minutes.
- At 11:20, mouth-click about twenty times.
- At 11:25, blink twenty-five times in a row.
- At 11:35, meow, wait five seconds, then meow again.
- At 11:40, yawn massively.
- At 11:45, turn to the person next to you and say “Shh” even if they aren't talking.
- At 11:50, stand up and sit back down.
Crit comments from 11:00 – 12:00:
(If someone asks you to elaborate, say, “I mean, it was just something I was thinking about, I don't really know how to explain it.” If they ask you again, say, “Um, I don't know, but what do other people think?”)
- I think your concept is really interesting, and I don't think I've ever thought about it in that way before, so I'm really impressed by your originality.
- I feel like this could be explored further. Would you ever consider making a series of this? (If they ask you to elaborate say “I just think it would be interesting to see all the different facets of this subject.)
- (Don't comment on project 3.)#- #
Snippet of Nellie's voice commands. Start listening when video is at 52:53.