A Self-Perpetuating Piece

by | Sep 27, 2017 | Artwork #1: Score

Artwork #1 (Score): A Self-Perpetuating Piece

Read this one line at a time. Do not move paper to reveal the next step until you’ve completed the instructions in the previous one.

Walk up to somebody.

Ask if they want to play a game.

If they say no, keep asking new people until somebody says yes.

When they say yes, cover up all steps except the first with the paper sleeve, hand them this piece of paper, and walk away.

(This score is meant to be written on a small piece of paper that can be slipped into a paper sleeve to cover up each step. See pictures below for reference.)

Artist’s Statement

In total, I made three copies of this score, all slightly different and with slight but insignificant modifications. One was written on a medium sized piece of paper in thick black marker, the second was written in pen on an index card, and the third was written in blue sharpie marker on an index card. I like the idea that there exists only three copies of this score, each slightly aesthetically different, and that I have absolutely no idea where any of them are.

Most people looked at the score, did not follow the first instruction and read the entire score, and then did not take immediate action. In fact, many did not take any action at all and simply went about their work as if nothing had happened. This was an interesting result— I learned that most people aren’t very likely to follow a set of instructions given to them by a stranger. This made it feel especially exciting (for me) when somebody actually did follow the instructions.

While I did find inspiration in many of the scores we examined in class, I was mostly inspired by what I did not see in the preexisting scores we looked at. I wanted to see a score with a sense of recursion, but I did not really see this in any of the scores we discussed in class. Because of this, I decided I wanted to make a score that was self-perpetuating. I wanted this score to be able to exist not just when somebody read it, but for it to always be active and alive and to give itself meaning. Simply, I wanted to create something that, by its very nature, didn’t have an end.

I also wanted to capture a sense of uncomfortable, awkward social interaction in this score. I wanted to bring people together but not in any significant way, simply just for a brief and awkward interaction. This score forces two people to share in something and interact but only for a brief moment in time, and the way the player is affected by this interaction is entirely up to them. It could leave them wondering why they were chosen to receive the score, and who they should pass it off to. It could leave them with no thoughts at all. It could make a small impact on their day and make them laugh, make them go on a brief and annoying detour, or mean nothing to them whatsoever. The score that most directly inspired this was Yoko Ono’s Stone Piece. I was inspired by the way Yoko Ono includes her friends in this art piece without them really even knowing they are a part of an art piece. By a lack of an explanation, she is forcing them to make their own meaning out of receiving an unknown powder, which I think creates a beautiful sense of artistic ambiguity that I truly admire and hoped to replicate through this piece.

As someone watching the events unfold and watching the paper as it was passed from person to person, I found it interesting that the paper linked all of these people together without them even realizing it. None of them could possibly know how many people had the paper before them, and I think that the element of mystery and unknowingness surrounding this score is one of its more profound and meaningful components. Even now, not even I, the creator of this score, know where it is, who has it, or all the places it has been. And I love the fact that I never will.


Below are videos of the game being played.