October 9, 2008

Bridge Walk

When we were first assigned to walk the bridge for half an hour, I thought it would be nearly painful to walk so slowly. I was surprised at how, after a minute or so, it was very easy to shift gears into such a slow step. I found it nearly meditative, although I did feel a bit badly about clogging the bridge for the bikers and those who were late for class. It was nice, however, to be able to do a bit of people-watching and really feel how good it was to take your time for a change. It made me think harder about time and how relative it is, and how different it can be for each person. I wonder what would be accomplished if every person was assigned a pace to use for a day to a week, and then everyone met back up and discussed the experience.

Crossing the Bridge ;)

That was super strange and fun and werid and Crazy!! Walking across the Washington Ave. Bridge for about a half and hour was really an Iinteresting experience! I wanted to laugh the entire time, people were getting very frustrated with us. A lady said the Lord's name in vain awhiling passin next to me, ti was really a trip!! Someone stopped and asked, " What's up with the creppy slow motion walking" It was really funny. I keep singing a song that was stuck in my head over and over again. But in all it was one of the coolest and bravest things I have ever done!!!

It's a time-machine journey cata-tastrophy!

I did enjoy the trip across the bridge, though I was at first worried people would assume we were protesting. (At least one of them, a friend of a friend, reportedly did.) Shame we can't experiment art in the real world without people thinking we're trying to "protest". (disclaimer: I do on occasion partake in protest, including artful forms. This is not a rip on art actually MEANT for that purpose.) It's probably a response from the fact that we are so invaded by advertising in one form or another that people become very adverse to any form or experience that seizes their attention.

But really:

At first my mind and body were jarred at the incredibly unnatural shifting of gears required to take a half hour crossing the bridge. After getting into it, the nearly unchanging, seemingly endless tunnel ahead and all around, with no progress made and people zipping past, I felt escaped from time. By the end of the journey I must have escaped space aswell, because the experience of changing my position (walking through a changing environment instead of a continuation of the tunnel-bridge) was very jarring. I felt compelled to stay still, the world was spiraling ahead and I couldn't catch up. This was the closest I have ever felt an understanding of the limitations of our perception of time and space.

Crossing the Bridge in Slow Motion

Honestly when I first heard we had to walk the bridge in 30 minutes I didn't think it was going to feel very long. When I take my time crossing the bridge and walk very leisurely it takes me about seven minutes. I figured that I would just walk 75% slower. No big deal.
Strangely when we started the walk I was excited. I even had a touch of butterflies in my stomach. I couldn't stop smiling and couldn't help but to look around at everyone. For about the first eight minutes I just constantly looked around at other people in the class and the people just passing by. I was very intrigued by other people and I wanted to know what they were thinking.
Slowly the excitement and my interest in other people started to dwindle. I soon found myself counting. I hate counting. For some reason every time I run my brain feels the need to count my steps. I hate it, it drives me crazy, and makes time seem to pass by so slow. I desperately tried to get the counting voice out of my head.
Eventually I was able to stop the counting voice by looking at the river and thinking about the various things it reminded me of. For the rest of the 20 minutes walking across the bridge I just let my mind wander. I love doing that. I love having absolutely nothing to do except kill time. I felt so calm and relaxed. I soon forgot where I was and what I was doing because I was so absorbed in my own thoughts. Surprisingly I was slightly disappointed when the 30 minutes were up.

October 7, 2008

SLOW Small steps....

Everyday i walk across the Washington Ave bridge atleast 4 times... im always the one with the constant passing or vearing to avoid the slow walkers on the sides... class is the first priority. I couldn't help but feel guilty of the fact that as i walked across the bridge with slow, small steps that i was causing some frustration, distress and anxiety about attending class on time or the sheer fact that we were annoying. The littlest things always have the biggest impact on the larger picture.. and crazy how it only took one of us to come up with the idea to do such an expirement and about 20 to carry it out and it affected hundreds of passing U of M students so greatly... now if we could just use such tactics and put it to good use... thatd be something to see...

Half an hour on the bridge

I guess I've been highly influenced by society and it's high-speed take on basically every aspect of life. I was very upset when I found out I wouldn't be able to bike across the bridge anymore, so taking a half an hour to cross the bridge was daunting to me. I timed us as we walked to the East Bank, it took about 4 and a half minutes. Then began the long trek back. And even knowing that I should go slowly to make the bridge last the entire time, it was hard for me. That bridge always looks super long, no matter what. As soon as five minutes in, though, I'd settled into more of a rhythm, one that I was able to keep up the entire way. And while the focus was supposed to be more inward, I couldn't help noticing the looks that some of the people passing by were giving us. And listening to some of their comments. It was hard to keep a straight face at times and pretend I wasn't listening in on their conversations. After finally reaching the end of the bridge, it was really weird to walk quickly again. It took a while before it felt normal, but then it was right back to fast-paced life. If only we could slow life down like that more often, and for things more significant than just a walk across the bridge. I can definitely see the beauty of it.

October 6, 2008

"What's The Hurry?"

I thought I'd never enjoy crossing the Washington Avenue Pedestrian Bridge after the first couple of times doing so. I was never one to find joy in simply walking, so lately I've been skipping the long trek and hopping on the bus, even to merely cross the river and get off at Coffman...

But this experience on the bridge I so desperately despise gave me a feeling that I never would have thought would come over me on that bridge: enjoyment. When Michael told us we were to take a half hour to cross the bridge that normally took only five minutes, I was really intrigued. Almost immediately I started getting crazy ideas on how we could use this to really piss a lot of pedestrians off. So en route to the east end of the bridge I started bouncing ideas off my peers. Nearing our experiment's starting point, we all seemed to agree that we should form a tight cluster to try and block other pedestrians.

But thanks to Chrissy's convincing "outside-of-the-box" thinking, I was persuaded to change the plan. Instead of sticking together as a group, we realized a sense of individuality would enhance the experience. As a group, no one stands out significantly, and therefore no one risks the chance of being embarrassed by their own actions. If we were to spread out, we would make ourselves more vulnerable and self-conscious. A sense of vulnerability is the best way to overcome our self-consciousness, causing us to no longer care what other people think and only focus on how we ourselves think and feel.

Occasionally, someone would come up to me and ask what we were all doing. To this I would simply respond with something like "You're moving really fast" or "What's your hurry?" I may have freaked some people out, but I know that I got them thinking as well. Exactly what I wanted.

The whole time I was inching along, I kept thinking, "Time can't hold me down!" This got me thinking about how great it would be to live without time restraints and schedules. I realized that this could never be possible as long as I have to work to support myself and survive. But at some point near my dying days, when I'm unrestricted by dates and priorities and financial security, I hope to live a lifestyle without time limits and schedules. Without the presence of time, I wouldn't ever think about how much time I have left in my life.

I don't think I completely understand the reasoning behind this exercise and how it ties into the art of collaboration. It struck me as an almost completely individual activity. However, I don't find it necessary to fully understand it. The experience was enough to take in.

October 4, 2008

feeling fine... getting detained

We were supposed to take a half hour to cross the bridge. Having just had some coffee for probably the third time in my life, I was feeling a little jittery. (Pumpkin flavored latte was a pretty good call though, Lyric). I thought going with the group, as collaborative as that may be, seemed a little claustrophobic. I also wasn't a big fan of one of the plans to block off the bridge completely. I decided getting on top of the bridge would be a blast and a half, and with the ideally placed fence I couldn't resist. So, waiting until no one seemed to be paying much attention, I climbed up the fence and got on top of the bridge. Under my horrible influence, Ryan did the same. I missed the poorly placed warning sign saying the top of the bridge was off limits and could result in a misdemeanor, and walked/ran crouched down until I was out of sight.

There was a beautiful sight from up there. Ryan and I sat down about a quarter of the way down the bridge and talked about the boundary waters which made me nostalgic, enhancing the experience. As we were getting up to leave we were greeted by the shouts of a UMPD cop who had climbed up a ladder to get us off the bridge. I didn't hear him at first, then debating whether to run to the other side or go speak to the officer. Ryan didn't think twice about going to speak to him (he must have better judgement,,,) After making it down the ladder and being scolded for endangering ourselves and him and plahahblahblahogadyboogady, the officer took our names and told us he didn't want to write us a ticket because he was about to get off work... umm. I told him I liked his boots (they were way sweet), and hopefully no one follows up on that. Cameras everywhere really creep me out. Honestly, I don't want to be seen everywhere I go. *shivers*

Reflectively: so worth it.