Pulse Project #1:
The Pulse Projects consist of small works outside. there are no tight parameters, it could be you taking a walk along a path for a mile, noting sounds you hear at every hundredth step; or standing at an intersection as a witness to the events of that place for a set amount of time, or photographs of a place over a set duration. it really is an opportunity for you to go outside, and look, listen, feel, think, reflect. a time for you to notice, and of course to document what you note. we are all in a hurry as we negotiate our outdoor navigation, usually not really present in that space. what are you drawn to, what pulls you into that present place/time? people? clouds? color? sounds? movement? smells?
On Monday May 13th 2009, a cardboard box labeled FREE in black bold letters was placed in the middle of academic ally at Alfred University. Inside the box was 300 folded pieces of small paper all of which stated "Use Your Imagination." Many students who walk through academic ally are in a hurry to beat the clock and get to class on time or are in a yank to get out of class and back to their dorm and such. I placed the box on the side walk forcing students to have to walk around the box and or over the box, which would draw attention to the box. I then stood afar and watched.
Between 8:10 - 8:20am, almost all the students who walked past the box didn't stop to open one of the papers inside the box. Many looked inside but didn't bend down and take the time to view one of the papers. A total of 6 students took the time to see what was actually inside the box. 4 of the students kept the paper and continued walking, and 2 of the student placed the papers back into the box and carried on their walk. Out of the 6 students between these morning hours, only two stood and place and concentrated on what they were reading.
Between 9:10 - 9:20am, there was many more students who walked past the box and many more who stopped to view inside the box. I noticed that it was when someone was looking inside the box that drew the attention of others to also follow in their lead. I also noticed that it was more likely that a group of students would draw pieces of paper out vs. someone by themself. 52 students stopped near the box to look inside. 37 of those students opened the papers. Some laughed and put the papers back, some kept them in their pockets, purses, bags, ect. Unfortunately I was too far away to hear the comments of the students after reading "Use Your Imagination."
Between 11:10-11:20am, I stood closer so I could not only view the progess of the box but also hear. 49 students viewed inside the box during these hours and 44 of those students took the time to read the papers. I heard students tell one another "I don't get it," and continue walking, not taking the time to figure out what there was to get. I also heard students explain to other students who ran into this problem some of their input. "The box says free, so use your imagination as to what you would like," was the best response I heard from a student. Numerous students complained because they thought there would be actual objects inside, none of which were pieces of paper. Free kittens and puppies were what students thought would most likely be in the box. The next highest responses were free books.
Between 5:00 - 5:30pm, I placed the box on the second floor of Powell near the couches. Only 21 students viewed in the box, 18 actually keeping the papers they pulled from the box. I feel the best responses were noted during this time duration. A group of 4 boys walked past, looked inside, read some of the papers, and knocked the box completely over and shook the box until all the papers were scattered on the floor. After placing the papers back into the box, 2 children came through, one boy, one girl. I watched as they sat down and opened one of the papers. The boy instantly said, "I want this one to be a dinosaur." The girl stated, "I want mine to be a truck." I was amazed when they kept reaching into the box and creating new objects with their imagination. A pony, pizza, a magic wand, new sneakers, a kickball that the dog can't pop, coloring books, and crayons were what the two children drew from the box with their imagination.
Out of 126 students who took the time to glance in the box, only 103 of those students took the time to actually investigate what was in the box by viewing one of the papers. What I found to be most true was, students felt more confident reading the papers when with others. I also found that very few took the time to state what the paper meant to them. Some were more upset that the box didn't hold kittens. The children were the best subjects. They not only took the time to view the papers, but they also took the time to use their imagination and create objects for the box. Maybe its that children don't concentrate on time and base their day on what needs to be done in what amount of time like we students do. They concentrate on dinosaurs and pizza and use their imagination much more.