...so as to end up flaccid, immobile, alone on the carpet of a dorm room,
shirtless, wheezing, intellectually menopausal, cutting lines on an iBook®
with a pre-paid Discover® card, watching consecutive hours of user-gen-
erated porn, in the dark, in a hoodie, apolitical, remorseless, eating salt-
and-vinegar potato chips from a bag without a napkin: like some hero,
pretending to be otherwise, on a Wednesday, during discussion section.
The signs that adorn seemingly every building at Brown, conveying its name, address, and date of construction, are part of the architectural vernacular on campus: they are so prominently-placed, recognizable, and useful as to be almost inseparable from our experience and navigation of the campus. They're also important, more toward the outskirts of Brown, in their delineating what is Brown property and what is not. In this way, perhaps they form the closest thing we have to a border between the greater East Side and the University. The signs also inevitably work to grant a great sense of authority to certain buildings, while simultaneously excluding non-members of the community.
My intention in this poster project was to harness this authority and use it toward political, or at least more evocative, ends. After a long series of phone calls, I was able to talk to the person who designs these signs, and received from him the precise dimensions, fonts, and spatial orientations of the signs. I used this form to produce a commentary on the University experience, by describing a kind of dystopian, collegiate nightmare--or, $160,000 (the approximate price of fours years' tuition) gone terribly wrong. My goal was to illuminate some of the worst of contemporary university behavior and, by inscribing it in Brown signs, make student passersby reconsider their habits and experiences, general health, motivations, etc. For people outside the University community, this poster could be read as a derision of Brown students' behavior, or at least an illuminating parody.
The content of the piece is somewhat illusory, but I think it engages: drug use, consumerism, political participation (or being politically cognizant), eating habits, pornography (specifically internet pornography), and the cliché of undergraduate malaise. By setting up a kind of worst-case-scenario as regards indulgence in drugs, pornography, consumerism, physical health, etc., I hoped for readers of this poster to see at least a part of themselves in this text, and to contemplate, if only briefly, their participation in a crisis of behavior that in my view has saturated too much of University life.