Explorations Fall 2012

Exploration #57: Thought Experiments

My mind, October 8, 2012

What if the dreams that we have that involve people that we know in real life, or people who give us their names but are only in dreams, are messages from those people? What are the implications if this is true? Are we ignoring what other people tell us in dreams? Are they ignoring what we attempt to tell them in dreams? How do we decide what message to send? How do we know that we’ve interpreted our friends’ messages correctly? How do we know if our friends interpret our messages correctly? If we forget a dream that had an important message in it, what happens? How do we bring up dream messages in conversation? Is there a way to control the messages sent via dream?

I remember a dream I had once about a boy I met in a shopping mall. His face was hooded by a black cloak. He disappeared soon after, but reappeared several times throughout the dream. He told me his name in the dream. I believe it was Detrier, but I don’t remember. What I do remember, though, was that for about a week afterward I listened carefully to the name of every boy I met and the name of every boy that I heard called in a store or other public place. I was convinced that I was destined to marry the boy with the name I heard in the dream. As is to be expected, I never met a boy with a name that sounded either like Detrier or Bartholomew, and I gave up on my fanciful notion of marrying the boy from my dream. But what if this dream was indeed a premonition? What if I dream of him again in a few years? Perhaps there really is a boy with that name out there, and I will meet him someday and we will get married. Perhaps some powerful force commands the romantic destiny of every person on Earth, and sends us premonitions of the one that we are destined to marry. It could have brought us together in the realm of dreams that night, and it will bring us together in the real world in the future.

I have attempted to send dream messages. When I was maybe eight years old, I attempted to send a message to my mother in my sleep. The way I went about it was by thinking over what the message was I wanted to send, and telling myself over and over before falling asleep that I would send her that message. I dreamt that night about speaking to her, but the next morning I didn’t remember to ask her about it, and she didn’t say anything about. Did it work? There is a possibility. If we learn to use dream messages in the future, how do we decide what message to send? Will it be like Inception, where we are conscious of what we do in the dream, and the person we wish to speak to is in the same room as us, and we communicate that way? What if they are on the other side of the world? How do we know that the sender and the recipient will be asleep at the same time? Is it possible to send dream messages like voicemail?

How about nightmares and bad dreams? If you have a nightmare in which you are running from a book villain in an orphanage with your brother, what message is that sending? Will you and your brother be orphaned soon? Will you and your brother be kidnapped at some point? Will you be helping orphans, and the orphans are attacked while you are there? Does this mean that book villains can actually come to life? Or is it a more mundane message, such as your mom telling you that you and your brother need to exercise more? Or is it a sinister message from your brother, promising you torment in the form of being chased around a Victorian-era orphanage?

If people learn to communicate via dream messages, then sooner or later someone will either want to make a profit from it or learn how to control it. But how do you control dreams? Do you prevent potentially dangerous people from sleeping through electrical shocks? Do you surgically implant new technology into people’s brains so that you can tell what messages they send through dreams? Do you hypnotize people to convince them to send messages advertising your product or telling other people that they are about to be attacked by the government? Or can government or company officials just send you dream messages directly? Are dream messages regulated by whether you know the person or not? If you’re sent a premonition about meeting someone in the future that you’ve never met before, how does that work? Is the premonition from a supernatural force, someone you know who’s slightly psychic, or from the person themselves?

These are all questions I would love to know the answer to, but I know they can never be answered. What would be your questions about dream messages? Do you have any potential answers?
The most important question of all in my view that I doubt anyone can ever answer is: Will anyone ever have answers?

Exploration #22: People Watching

Eastdale Mall, September 30, 2012

I believe this exploration was the hardest of the three explorations I’ve done so far. The mission? Spend an hour in a public place and document one thing that stands out about each person that passes. Sound easy? I thought so too, until I went to the mall on Sunday. I figured that it would be slow enough on a Sunday that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed, and it also would be busy enough that I wouldn’t be bored to tears and figure this whole project was pointless. Of course, I love people-watching anyways, so the project wouldn’t have been pointless at any point in my view, but it would have been rather irritating to have gone all the way to the mall and have sat there for an hour only to have five people walk by. As it turned out, that was most definitely not the case, but I shall return to that point.

Actually, I will cover that topic right now. The majority of the people I saw were families, and many of them had at least four members of the family walk by, so rather than five people in the whole hour, there were at least five people per minute. If people seemed to be part of the same group, I documented merely one member as opposed every member. Of course, if there was something particularly striking about multiple members of the same group, I documented all the unusual things, but I don’t regret my decision to, for the most part, document one member of a family, because I filled five sheets of notebook paper with notes that way.

If I had had to see something particular about every person, and write it down, and eat my lunch at the same time, the entire experience would have been completely overwhelming. Luckily, two of my friends were there with me, so they would call out certain unusual things about a person, and I would write it down. I did see most of the people also, but I knew what I was looking for beforehand, so it wasn’t as stressful.

Many of the peculiarities that I noted had to do with girls’ pants. There was a rainbow of leggings. Both elastic and jean-leggings, and in pretty much every neon color imaginable. A few of the colors I noted are pink with polka-dots, peach, neon blue (both on a girl and a guy – awkward), neon green, heather gray with a spider-web like print, denim-like gathered pants (more like skinny jeans, but they still count), leopard print, and bright purple. There were also quite a few girls in running shorts, many in vibrant colors, and an older lady wearing a bright green running mini-skirt. We saw several guys wearing low shorts that are the “gangster” style now, and on some it didn’t look bad, but what cracked us up most were the guys that were trying to look cool by wearing these shorts, but were so uncomfortable in them that they kept trying to pull them up to their waist. I couldn’t help wondering if any of them were wearing “sub-spenders”: suspenders that go around your waist instead of your shoulders. Speaking of bright colors, there was one young lady wearing a bright pink shirt and a bright blue hat. At first sight, I didn’t think that those loud colors would work together, but she pulled it off quite elegantly. There was also a teenaged boy that we saw wearing a neon pink raincoat that turned out to be his mom’s. The last bright color that we saw was beautiful neon yellow embroidered sari that I absolutely fell in love with.

There were some very sweet moments we saw also. For instance, there was a dad and his daughter, and the dad was carrying a giant green balloon for her. A mom passed by carrying two Build-A-Bear boxes for her daughters. A guy carried a Victoria’s Secret bag for his girlfriend, which startled me and my friends at first, then we thought it was very sweet.

One of the most surprising people I saw at the mall was a dad and son that I knew! The dad suggested a couple of ideas to make my project more interesting. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve taken any of them…

After the hour was finished and we were walking out of the mall, I continued to notice things about the people that stood out. Even today, two days later, I still notice things about people. What do you notice?

Exploration #38: Grocery Shopping with John Cage

Maxwell AFB Commissary, September 27, 2012

I decided to do the exploration Grocery Shopping with John Cage, using the color green as my criteria for items. I was surprised by the number of green items in the store, so after about one aisle, I narrowed my criteria to items whose packaging was completely (or nearly completely) green: no pickles or limes allowed.

Here are some pictures of my cart when I was done:

The items that fit my criteria (except for the first one that I chose: that one just looked awkward so I had to pick it up) were – in no particular order:

A bag of 3 Musketeers Mint
Lemon-lime KoolAid
A bag of M&Ms
Lime Jello
Ritter Sport with hazelnuts
A “soothing” skin scrub
A bag of Lifesavers Gummies
Ronzoni Garden Delight Pasta
Organic sugar
Comet bleach
Renuzit “After the Rain” 3-pack of air fresheners
Canned chopped spinach (ewwww!)
Green tea with roasted brown rice (by far the weirdest thing I picked up)
A container of pitted prunes
Folgers original decaf coffee
Jello “Mixchief”
Club biscuits
Trident spearmint gum
Green cherries (the first thing I got: the package was in no way green, but seeing just made me wonder, why? Are they gummy? What ARE these?)
“After Eight” mint chocolate thins
Chili-flavored ramen
Pure ‘N Gentle Jumbo diapers
Smart Mouth mouthwash
“Snackwell’s” double chocolate chip cookies (I wanted to keep these so bad!)
A dog bone chewy toy
Juicy Juice apple juice (of course!)
Apple Jacks cereal
Perrier sparkling water
Herbal Essences “Drama Clean” hair conditioner
A container of dry roasted walnuts
Sour cream and onion Pringles
Ritter Sport milk chocolate with almonds
And I’m sorry to admit this, but I just couldn’t resist: A lime Margarita in a Bag

I did think about getting a Sprite or some other sort of lemon-lime soda that has the ubiquitous green bottle, but I couldn’t figure out whether the soda itself was green or whether the bottle was. Thinking back on it now, it should have been rather obvious that the soda wasn’t green, but I didn’t want to take the risk. Besides, everyone notices that Sprite and Sierra Mist have green bottles: why be normal? I also did not go through the produce and freezer aisles. The freezer aisles, because I only used a small cart and by the time I got to the frozen goods my cart was pretty stuffed. I didn’t go through the produce section because, duh, produce is green. Obviously things like oranges and apples and carrots aren’t green, but lettuce and cucumbers are most definitely green. This is also why I decided to go with green packaging rather than green food.

My favorite items from this shopping trip (and by “favorite” I mean “weirdest” or “most unusual”) were by far the green tea, the chili-flavored ramen, and the Margarita in a Bag. I still laugh when I think about the Margarita in a Bag. It must have looked so weird to everyone else in the store. I guess that’s mostly why I picked it up. Besides the fact that they just look funny. 😀 The chili-flavored ramen: who would eat that? If you want chili flavor: eat chili! Unless you’re a vegetarian, but can’t you make chili with tofu or something? I didn’t even notice the flavor at first, but once I saw it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Chili-flavored ramen? Chili-flavored ramen? And then there was the green tea. I don’t like tea anyways, but tea with rice? Really? I couldn’t help thinking: is the rice ground up in the tea or is it actual grains of rice? What would that feel like: rice in your tea? Huh… Someone will have to buy that and tell me.

Doing this exploration, I had a very cool experience. Not only was it awesome to discover all this green food in the grocery store that I visit every week, I had a really neat interaction with one of the fellow shoppers. In the first aisle I visited, I had to reach over a lady to get the Ritter Sport bars. “Oh, sorry!” she said. “I could have moved!” “Sorry!” I said. “I could have said something!” Then we laughed awkwardly. Seeing the candy bar I had grabbed, she said, “Those things are just irresistable, aren’t they?” “I’ve never actually had them.” I replied. “I’m looking for green things in the grocery store for my English class.” “That’s really cool!” she said. “Good luck!” I thanked her, then continued on my quest. Soon I was so absorbed that I forgot completely about her, but when I stopped at the end out of the way to take pictures of my cart, right as I finished she came into the aisle I was standing in! “Wow, you finished fast!” she said. It took me a moment to recognize her, but when I did, I was quite impressed that she had remembered who I was. “Yes, I was quite surprised.” I answered. “Well, good luck with your project!” she said. “Thanks! Have a great afternoon!” I responded. Walking away, I thought that it was a very cool thing for her to remember me and remember that I was doing a project for a class. I may never see her again, and she may never think about me again, but I’m very glad that my quirky project was able to brighten that lady’s afternoon.

Exploration #17: Instant Sculpture

Goodwyn Hall, September 20, 2012

We made a sculpture with water bottles, laptops, an iPad, a Kindle, wasabi peas, and highlighters.

Here’s what happened:

I made this instant sculpture with two classmates, a member of one of the student groups I’m in, and a guy I met two days before. It was mostly me and OruHime who made the sculpture, but we used some of pretty much everyone’s stuff.

I chose to do the instant sculpture exploration because I was sitting in the lobby of Goodwyn Hall, which was crowded as always, and I wanted to do some part of the English homework that I could do with friends, quickly, and in a noisy room. I flipped through the different explorations, and this one jumped out at me as an obvious choice. When I showed it to OruHime, we had the same thought at the same moment, and then pretty much terrorized the three boys at our table by turning into a whirlwind of activity. We arranged the laptops and the iPad so that the heights went from shortest to tallest clockwise. (The tallest was mine.) The Kindle was already in the middle, so we put the can of wasabi peas on top of it. Then we sat and looked at it for a minute, because we felt like there was something missing. It took us a few seconds, but then we decided to stack highlighters on top. (Three of the highlighters are mine.) The water bottles are in the sculpture because they were already on the table, because the guys to whom they belonged didn’t want to move them off because we were all pulling out our phones to use as cameras and so they didn’t have any hands free, and because OruHime made a very cool artistic decision to put them diagonally across from each other to add just a bit more of a coolness factor to our sculpture. We were quite pleased with the result, I must say, even though I believe we may have traumatized those poor boys with our brilliantly creative whirlwind of insanity.

I believe this sculpture characterized more or less what college life is like: hanging out with friends, snacking quite a lot, highlighting endless lines of notes, and having the ever-present computer for both business and pleasure purposes. I find it interesting to try and compare our sculpture to the sculpture made out of mail by a student in this class last year, primarily because he made his sculpture by himself out of letters that had been sitting around for quite a while, while I made my sculpture in collaboration with other students out of objects and items that had appeared on that table anywhere from one hour to five seconds before the picture was taken. Our sculpture also took considerably less time and effort to create than the mail sculpture created by the student last year.

The explorations we have covered and will cover in this class are definitely shaping how I view the world and, this exploration in particular, how I view art. I’ve always liked sculptures, and admired sculptors for their patience and ability, but I’d never considered that I could be a sculptor. I’m really not that artistic in terms of visual media. This exploration, however, showed me that a sculpture can be made out of anything, and that you don’t need training, expertise, and a sculptor’s eye to create a cool sculpture. Now, granted, I highly doubt that this work will ever make it into an art gallery or museum, especially considering the fact that all these items are being used regularly (I’m typing this post on my laptop right now), but it gave me a chance to explore making art without being afraid that it would turn out badly. Yes, people will look at this picture and say “Really? This is art?” but I feel quite good about what I did, and I think it can be qualified as art. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that it was a tremendous amount of fun to make this sculpture and continue laughing about it with friends several days after the fact, even though it may have taken perhaps five minutes to complete. Okay, maybe three… 😀

7 thoughts on “Explorations Fall 2012

  1. I think you need to give your sculpture a name, something along the lines of chaotic college life. lol I like the idea behind it because I’ve definitely used everything in that sculpture…many times since college started.

  2. Green, green, GREEN!! No, im kidding. I like your sculptures, but what I liked most was your reference to chili ramen. What college student doesn’t cringe at that name- uggghhhh, RAmen.

  3. I love your thought experiments. I’m not sure why I didn’t mention them before, possibly I over-looked it. I love when people delve into the unknown corners of their mind. Beautiful stuff.

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