Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day three, locations six and seven

We observed the chair in 2 separate locations, between the hours of 2:45 and 4:15 on Thursday. For the first 45 minutes, the chair was placed directly in the center of the Benson/Tribble outdoor study area, at the convergence of 4 walkways. This central location, in addition to the fact that many students were just getting out of class at 2:45, made for a lot of strange looks towards the chair initially. This was to be expected, as the chair was nowhere near any other chairs, and is, admittedly, quite ugly. While many people slowed their walk to examine the chair, very few stopped, with some exceptions of course. All in all, 5 people physically sat in the chair during this time. I didn't expect many, so 5 was right around my estimate. At Wake Forest, where the social stigma is so great that many people refuse to cut across the quad, so as not to be judged by their peers, the idea of sitting in such an unsightly chair in the middle of a walkway is ridiculous. Also, the chair’s position was completely exposed to the hot sunlight of the day, unlike the other umbrella-covered tables in the area. The students that did sit in the chair only stayed sitting for a few seconds at the most. What may have been even more interesting than those who sat in the chair was those who walked by without the slightest trace of noticing. I found this fascinating that such a blatant and ugly disturbance to The Everyday garnered zero response from so many people.

Location #6:

Corresponding Photos:

At 3:30, we moved the chair to the Benson patio and had fairly similar results. Although this was a time in between classes when there was a bit of a lull on campus, the chair was now in a sitting area amidst other chairs, and therefore it didn't seem as strange for those passing by. People found it more realistic to accept that another chair, however uncomfortable it appears, was placed here, rather than in the middle of a walkway. What was an interesting observation, however, was the fact that the other students sitting at Benson kept shooting dirty glances over at the chair, as if they expected it get up and walk away. All in all, during the 45 minutes on top on the Benson patio, we had 5 more students sit in the chair, and they seemed more at ease than the few who had sat in it while on the walkway. They also sat on it for a longer period of time than at the Tribble/Benson location. One final observation I noted was that no adults of any kind made any slight attempt to sit in the chair whatsoever.

Location #7:

Corresponding photos:

Day two, locations three, four, and five

The chair was moved to three different locations today. The first of the three locations was the semi-circle lawn in front of Greene Hall (where the departments of psychology and romance languages reside, respectively). The area routinely greets professors and students alike for cigarette breaks, after class discussions, and other daily pleasures that can be had on beautiful day.
As the chair was being transported to the location, I had a run in with its first encounter. I literally had to leave it on the backside between Manchester and Greene so I could legally park my car. As I walked towards the spot, I encountered a few people standing around it and one sitting on it. Once they left we set the chair up in the location outside of Greene. Immediately the chair attracted a group exiting Greene, many of which made comments on the chair, saying it was “awesome and strange.” Not long after, a professor found the chair occupying the spot in which he took his cigarette breaks. He didn’t sit in the chair but had a five-minute staring contest with it during his break. The traffic outside Greene slowed down, which justified the twenty or so minute drought in interaction between the Wake Forest community and the chair. During this time we took some observations and noted how different it was from the first day. The chair, in all its locations was often taken notice of, but it seemed that in its new location, people were more inclined to actually sit in it, not just stare or assault it.

Location #3:

Corresponding photos:

Bonus photo between Manchester and Greene:

On that note, we moved the chair to its second location of the day, in the middle of Manchester Quad, or the Mag Quad. This ended up sort of the way we expected to; few, but interesting and prolonged interaction. The amount of people that stopped to see this chair was low, but there were two or three people that literally walked all the way to the center of the quad just to sit on it, stare at it, or just marvel at its queerness. There were a few passers who pointed and whispered about the chair and others who even noticed our conspicuous location below the Magnolia trees, noting that we were observing. Someone even left their back pack on the chair for a little while.

Location #4:

Corresponding photos:

Finally, we made our way towards the area in between the Benson University Center, the Zach Smith Reynolds Library, Tribble Hall, and the Mag Quad. The chair was placed off to the side of the chain-linked statues and was left for a short period of time. This was particularly interesting because it saw almost no interest until one student literally sat down on it and started reading for the remainder of the time he was there. The shade provided a nice area for reading I suppose.

Location #5:

In essence, we did a lot of moving with the chair today. It certainly fostered a great deal of interest and interaction as well as curiosity and inhibition. Depending on the locality, the chair’s overall situated-ness, it spawned several different reactions. Blistering heat without shade in a remote area was the least popular. The most popular area was shady and had quite a nostalgic feel to it, thus providing a more inviting situation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day one observations, locations one & two

Location #1: The Pit

When observing the chair in two different locations in front of the Pit, we gained a new perspective on the role of the viewer concerning site-specific and situational art. The majority of people proceeded to pass the chair with minimal glances. Others simply walked by and ignored it. Since the chair is not an ordinary object that blends into the Wake Forest landscape, what was most interesting is the fact that people had to choose to ignore the chair. The act of ignoring, in this situation, is a conscious decision on the part of the viewers. It would be difficult to not take notice of the chair, which inevitably means the passers-by who ignored it made an intentional effort to do so.
The act of ignoring the object, which probably struck their curiosity, posed a deep question about social constructs. The people who chose to interact with the chair were generally in groups. This may be due to the fact that some might feel awkward or feel judged by others if they singularly approach the chair. On the other hand, when in a group, everyone becomes a participant on the off chance of any social or “status” consequences. Interestingly enough, boys were by and large more willing to touch and inspect the chair as opposed to girls. This may either say that the male population is more daring or that girls are more concerned with social appearances. It is also possible that this focused more on the population selection and may actually say very little of whether people are willing to interact with art or not.
Other interactions observed included people stopping, staring, touching, even kicking the chair. Some were still braver and took the liberty to sit down. When placed by the wall near the Pit, most students decided to lean against the wall, casually glancing at the chair but for the most part, ignoring its presence. One attempted to sit on the chair but quickly got up, afraid it would break. Sometimes the people who took a seat actually struck a pose. This may be due to an attempt to alleviate the awkwardness of the situation. All these observations suggest that this project was more audience-specific and that if the chair were placed in a different location, it would instigate different reactions. The problem may be that Wake Forest relies too highly on social status for some to risk. When the chair was moved to stand on the walkway between the Pit doors and the wall, there were a lot more responses from the audience. The location of the chair was critical to whether more people interacted with it or not. By placing the chair in the middle of the pathway, it made itself stand out from the ordinary, making a statement to be observed and analyzed. In contrast, its place off to the side could seem unintentional, therefore holding no significance.

Location #2:

Corresponding photos:

Monday, April 12, 2010


This is the first of a few posts that will make up our (Site-specific & Situation group) final project. Subsequent posts will include a more detailed description of what this project is, as well as photos of the project, other documentation, and analyses of our observations. That is, to be more specific, the observation of a group project that resulted in a fully functional, but highly impractical and uncomfortable, cardboard chair. We selected several sites around the Wake Forest University campus in which it will reside and its interaction with the community will be duly noted. More to come soon!