Photography 405 Creative Projects
Assignment 3: Mindful Observations, or Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There
Part 1: 72 hour observations without a camera
Over the last 3 days I have been recording observations whenever I see, hear or smell something that sparks any kind of interest to me. I recorded moments that left an impression on me, quotes that I heard, songs that I listened to while doing homework, people I saw while walking to class, dreams and nightmares I had each night, feelings. I normally always have a sketchbook on me to jot down inspiration, ideas, and usually 5 to-do lists a day, but what makes this assignment a little different than what I normally do, is that I tried to force myself to look longer and to look deeper into what it was that I was seeing, to truly observe my life and the people in my life. I wanted to take in everything.
My notes were sporadic and messy, just like the curls in my hair and the days that fill my planner. This experiment was not about looking at the structure of a building more carefully or staring at the details of the fibers of someone’s corduroys, but more about recognizing and processing the simple and mundane details that I tend to ignore because I walk too fast or stare at my phone too long. A friend’s smile, the shininess of my English professor’s balding head, the actual taste of the 4 cups of coffee that I swallow every morning.
Looking back on my notes, I wasn’t really surprised with what it was I decided to record. I tried to not be selective and to write anything that came to mind, however there was one dominate pattern. I have always been a people watcher and even with photography, I would rather be photographing people than anything else. Nothing says more than an individual’s facial expression or body language. I tended to notice specific features of a particular person, their mannerisms, their clothing, the way that their hair fell around their eyes. Whether it was a good friend or a stranger eating lunch at Au Bon Pain, I studied both their interactions with other people and the way they acted when they were alone. I feel like through this experiment not only did I learn a lot about my friends, my peers, and my school as a whole but I also learned a lot about myself as a person. I often find myself complaining about how boring State College is and that there is nothing interesting left here and I am so, so wrong. When you take the time to look at everything around you, it’s very easy to create your own new world that no one else sees. I hope I continue to observe and appreciate the small and beautiful details that fill my days long after this project is complete.
||| Below is a typed version of the written shorthand notes I had in my sketchbook |||
Day 1: Tuesday January 27, 2015
Child in Starbucks is screaming, good morning. Seeing your own breath on cold mornings. Seeing others breath on cold mornings. Hair like straw. Snowy slush covered floors. I am so over the yellow of Au Bon Pain’s logo. Coffee with friends is important. //Les Sins// Blood Orange// Karen O// His corduroy pants were covered in paint and he had puddle stains on the back of his pants legs. NUDES! (aka Advanced Figure Drawing Class). It’s overcast outside so the room is very dark and the shadows are very harsh. Charcoal on his face. Very intense cat-like eyeliner. Cotton candy colored hair dye. Feeling extremely stressed out today. Toro y Moi – “tell me you need me here”. Insomnia.
Day 2: Wednesday January 28, 2015
The 6 am light shining through the window sits at the end of my bed. Piles of clothes fall out of my closet. Coffee count unspeakable. Kids on a rope are screaming. The kid who just sat behind me in English smells like he smoked an entire pack of cigarettes before coming to class. I can’t breathe. Mohawk kid answers every question. Professor’s bald head is extremely shiny today. Meeting friends for lunch is important. He just smirked with his eyes. Perfect light in the staircase of the Visual Arts building right now. Dragging feet when he walks. Dragging feet with she walks. //James Blake// Iron & Wine// Kurt Vile// Only one left in the Collegian office and the lights are flickering like a horror movie. My roommates are always asleep when I wake up and always asleep when I get home. Our apartment floor is sticky and gross. James Taylor will inevitable come on Pandora when I miss my family. Lonely. Insomnia.
Day 3: Thursday January 29, 2015
Still dark when I woke up this morning. Can coffee taste burnt because I think Starbucks burnt my coffee? No clean clothes. I Face-timed with my nephew and he was screaming. All of the kids are screaming. Love the bright sunlight coming through the staircase in the Palmer museum. Very inspired by the red in the Donald Judd piece that I saw today. //Bob Dylan// Lou Reed//Real Estate// “I think it’s important that people don’t feel alone” Lou Reed. Stains on his tshirt and both of his snow boots have untied laces.