Tuesday, 30 August 2011
The expeditions begin...
Host A Brooch took off to a roaring start with a full contingent of dedicated urban jewellery adventurers. The first weekend's participants included solo explorers, couples, and wear+photographer teams and whole families. Some had stumbled across the project by chance, while others specifically came out to 'host a brooch'. Initially, we suggested people embark on individual adventures so as to immerse themselves fully in the project. However many pairs and groups proved that sharing the adventure intensified peoples' excitement and experimentation and generated dialogue about the changing city. Although the project's format was unusual, the broad range of visitors - ranging from elderly women and children to the tradies setting up the events tents - all embraced the concept.
Each adventure began by drawing a number to see which brooch to wear. This worked on the theory that a surprise selection might lead to a more novel experience of the city. Each person was equipped with 'user manual' and briefed for their adventures in the city... They were asked not to plan a route, but to "see where the brooch takes them", and along the way to notice and document the connections that arise with their surroundings.
Returning from their adventures, everyone was enthusiastic and energised, reporting increased attention to detail and sense of connection with their surroundings. For some, the city became highly colourised. For others, overlooked shapes, structures and tiny details jumped out. Some participants were highly aware of visual phenomena; others aural. In most cases the brooches drew attention to a range of both biological and architectural or mechanical structures. For some, the project brought about mixed feelings: as a positive counterbalance to the doom and destruction experienced during the past months, and a cathartic way of reconciling sadness and fear (see our first participant's video response). For others the adventure had nothing to do with the earthquakes whatsoever.
In each case, the act of taking photos honed people's perceptions and providing insight into each person's view-of-the-world-through-the-brooch. Conversations developed about: the future of the city; peoples' individual experiences of the city; the rapid pace of change in the city; potential materials for jewellery; enjoyment of seeing beauty in things usually overlooked; the sense of loss experienced by inner city families; and their enjoyment of reacquainting themselves with the city.
Many people also commented that they felt both compelled and permitted to behave freely and unconventionally: lying on tram tracks, posing with policemen, lying on the grass to take photos and wrapping themselves in mesh.
Thank you for all your thoughtful responses.