It had been a looong day of walking around Brooklyn with a bag full of colored tape, looking for something to touch off an idea for another site intervention. That’s how it works for me. I’ve gotta lug the materials around and just sort of wait for the lightning to strike. I can target an area that’s likely to have some interesting detritus to do my wandering in, but that’s about it. The rest is out of my hands.
Late in the afternoon when I was pretty well sick of walking, and the sun was hitting a beautiful angle that I knew wouldn’t last for long, I turned down a dead-end industrial street in western Greenpoint. I can usually count on the side streets and factory lots near the East River waterfront to give me something to work with, and it seemed like this spot would be no exception. Among the mostly empty parking spaces of this factory lot, between cracks in the pavement that were filling in with tall, unruly grass, there was a wood-paneled TV with its screen smashed in; a metal folding chair missing its seat; a scattering of food wrappers and discarded shoes; a stack of plywood and shipping pallets; and the requisite nasty mattress, old tires, and busted auto glass. I stared at all of that bizness for a while, mentally rearranging things and visualizing appropriate sound effects for the possible vignettes… but nothing was switching me on. Not really.
I turned around ready to leave, and saw that I had been joined on the ground by a group of pigeons that had been watching from the factory roof. They were slowly head-bobbing in the direction of a rock-hard partial loaf of bread that someone must have been using to feed them at some point. It hit me like (insert your favorite metaphor for inspiration here): with a combination of crusty old bread to draw them in, and a good stomp on a stack of plywood to make them scatter, I might be able to choreograph these dirty little bastards.
So I laid down my tape, bloodied my fingertips a little bit breaking up the hardest loaf of bread known to man, arranged the bread near the tape-writing, and then repeated the picture-taking cycle: I waited for the pigeons to get up on the bread, stomped like hell on the nearby plywood, and snapped a picture of them scattering. Wait. Stomp. Snap. Wait. Stomp. Snap. Now let me tell you – it is damned hard to properly frame a shot without a tripod or remote shutter release, while repeatedly thwomping your leg down like a jackass. But I managed to get a few decent photos in the end. Here’s my favorite:
Mini-promo time: This shot, along with documentation of other recent interventions “WAAHHH” and “ZZZAP”, and a handful of my recent collages, will be on display (and for sale) from December 11th, 2010 through February 13th, 2011, as part of the group exhibition “PARTY CRASHERS” in Arlington, Virginia. Check it out if you’re down that way!