Artwork #3 Intervene: Walking in Sync

by | Nov 10, 2017 | Artwork #3: Intervene

For my intervention, I wanted to do something noticeable but subtle. Something that people not involved would look at and think about, but not something terribly disruptive in the place where it occurred. In some ways it worked and in others it failed; I’m not sure if I was successful overall.

I was mainly inspired by the group Improv Everywhere and their piece “Frozen Grand Central.” The idea of doing something in a public place that get people to look and ask questions is very cool to me, so I wanted to do something similar. Everyone freezing in place would have been ripping them off, so I decided to do the opposite and have a bunch of people do the exact same thing.

The Plan

My original plan was to start out walking alone, trying to stay in step with a stranger walking in the same direction as myself. As I walked the route I planned others who were in on it would join in as I passed, walking in step behind me. The farther we went, the longer the chain would become. I hoped that at some point strangers would decide to join in. Once we got to the end of the path, we would just stop and disperse, leaving anyone watching or participating amused and confused.

This plan didn’t happen. I tried several times to get enough people to help me, but I could not find enough people due to my friends having busy schedules on weekdays. I tried to design routes for less and less people, but I eventually decided that I would have to stage it in class.


I created a new route that only looped around Centennial Commons, and briefly described the premise to the class. I didn’t end up describing or planning it out well enough, which seems to have led to confusion during the walk. Regardless, it seemed to start out okay.

From what I could tell people noticed, but did not react much. There are usually people hanging around Centennial working on homework or meeting with friends, and I expected them to watch us while walking or perhaps even join in. Unfortunately it was a rather cold day and there was nobody hanging out in the Commons, only people passing through. I hope that the people who noticed questioned what was going on and thought it was interesting, but I’ll never know.

I also feel like I may have overestimated the ability of a large line of people to stay in step with each other, though it was hard to tell from the front of the line. To me it’s easy to follow people in step, but I was in a marching band for four years. I’ve had plenty of practice. If I were to do this again, I’d make sure all of the participants had practiced before starting.

Other Notes

I’ve begun to notice a pattern with a lot of my own art. I feel like I’m obsessed with trying to get people to notice the details in the world around them. I have no way of knowing how other people think or feel, but it seems to me that a lot of people don’t take the time to notice the world around them and appreciate it.

I want to make people happy. I’m not sure how to classify my views on purpose and life, but I’ve thought a lot about why I exist. I don’t have any profound wisdom on the subject, and I’ve never taken a philosophy class in my life, but thinking about this stuff has led me to develop an outlook on life that makes me feel content in my place in the universe. By the time I leave this world, I want to have left a net increase of happiness from my existence.

I like to think of myself as a happy person. Most of the time I am. I like to smile, I like to see friends, I like to play games. I want to share that feeling of happiness and contentment with others, but I don’t know the best way to do that. Taking time to appreciate the complexities of the world is how I find my happiness, so I think that’s why I keep making projects that try to get people to notice the world around them more; to notice the things that I do.

Every aspect of a building was decided by someone. Not all decisions were made by the same person, but everything was decided by someone at some point. Some designer decided a building should have a brick wall, and some builder decided to put one specific brick where it is for some reason or another. It might have been the first one in the pile, it could have just felt right for them to put it there; I’ll never know.

To me, the existence that we experience is a result of this incredible clockwork of reality, and it’s beautiful and comforting. It makes me happy to think about what led to a leaf falling in to exactly where it lands, why my desk is exactly 107 centimeters wide, and how the stitching holding a shoe together is designed for that specific task. The world and all of the coincidences and decisions and processes and accidents that have led to this exact moment are beautiful and overwhelming, and I just want to share that with people.

Maybe all of this sounds like pretentious garbage, I don’t know.

Like several of my other projects, I want to try to get people who notice it to question what is happening. I want people to stop and appreciate the moment, with a dozen people randomly walking in step. I want people to talk about things that they notice with others.

I just want to make people happy.

I’m not sure if I managed to do that with this project.