Beth, Week 11, Proposal

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Underlying concept
I will make guides to non-exhibition spaces within the Walker Art Center:

This will be a 4-part set of guides to corners. These will each include a small photograph of the corner, along with text that invites the viewer to participate in a verbal deconstruction of the space. These will include:
1. Musings on a local apparatus of utility, such as a smoke detector or hygrometer
2. A description of shadows cast in the corner, as if they were intentional and well-considered
3. A chatty description about how a forgotten corner might be activated.
4. A guide to things the viewer can see in their peripheral vision while facing the corner.

This will be a self-guided tour of one of the gallery ceilings. Visitors will be invited to lie on the floor in the far corner of the carpeted gallery in the Midnight Party exhibition. When they lie on their backs with their legs up in the air, they will be able to pretend to ramble over the ceiling surface. This tour will begin with a brief reference to the fly Rene Descartes watched move across his ceiling when he invented the coordinate system. Objects and obstacles on this ceiling will be plotted by rough coordinates.

If there is time to do this properly, I will also make a star chart of the Skyline Room ceiling. The Skyline Room on the 5th floor of the addition is made of triangular facets that are studded with small inset lights. This would be a map that gathers ceiling lights into constellations that refer to figures in art history who are represented by the Walker's permanent collection. There's only a small chance I will include this piece in my project.

How it relates to the Walker site
These guides will directly relate to the physical structure of the museum.

Why I'm doing this project
I tend to notice things I'm expected to overlook. This project is an invitation for visitors to share in my explorations of the museum's not-so-hidden surfaces, expanding the areas we normally see. I have always noticed what I'm not expected to see. My photographs have addressed marginal landscapes, tiny signs of disruption and disorder in careful landscapes, and sloppy historical references. I see these Walker guides as continuing this focus. The "prizes" will also use my skills in book making and design.

The tools and tactics I'll employ
I will use simple images and text.

Intended form
Corner Guides: These will be small printed sheets that include a photograph of the corner along with text that addresses an aspect of that specific corner. These will be small signs that function as interpretive labels. These labels will resemble the signs that offer instructions for the use of the wheelchair elevators within the galleries.

Ceiling Guide: This will be a printed sheet that has the instructions for the ceiling tour.

Why this might interest someone
Corner Guides: These are meant to function more as rewards for people who notice the labels. Those people may have already walked up to similarly innocuous looking labels only to discover they were lists of donors or other kinds of unsexy institutional information. These guides will reward their attention but will not solicit it.

Ceiling Tour: This is an opportunity to "move" through a space in a completely new way. When the visitor is on her back, she might be surprised at how the ceiling can offer a new, challenging terrain from which to navigate the gallery space. I chose this particular gallery because it's small and carpeted, but also because it has the Man Ray video up high on the wall near the upside-down Marlo Pascual's photograph that I adore.

Why someone might be curious about it
Corner Guides: If the signs catch their eye, they might wonder if they are real.

Ceiling Tour: If a person never did this as a child, they might wonder what it looks and feels like to stretch your feet out toward the ceiling and pretend to walk on it.

How I will extend an invitation
Corner guides: Is it bad of me to hope not many people notice these? Most people never even notice little institutional details placed around the periphery of a gallery space. I want these corner guides to function as little treats for people who, like me, do notice.

Ceiling Tour: These instructions will be on the floor in the corner. There will be a little sign saying something like "Lie down with me" or "A Walking Tour of the Ceiling" so people might be curious.

How visitors will engage with the project
Corner Guides: These will be simple labels that offer instruction for thinking about a neglected corner in a new way. The visitor only needs to read the text and notice the shapes in the corner. Each of the 4 labels will end with a simple notice that there is a little gift for them at the visitor desk in the Bazinet area. These prizes will be a small number of 3-D pieces that model the corners. When these models have all been distributed, a piece of candy will be offered to any remaining visitors who enquire.

Ceiling Tour:
The visitor will pick up the instruction sheet and lie down on the floor in the corner to begin the tour. There will only be 2 laminated or dry-mounted instruction sheets to limit the number of people on the floor.

Plan B
I don't have a Plan B for the corner guides, but I will lie down and walk through the ceiling tour myself if it looks like no one is brave enough, or if they haven't noticed the guided tours on the floor.

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