Since October 2015 I have posted 1000 sidewalk faces to Instagram. I choose this guy to be number #1000 because he embodies everything I value in the project:
The classic medium of my genre!
I like noticing things and examining closely so I turned that into an art practice. That’s how I entertain myself on endless dog walks, traversing the same streets year after year, I look for what is unusual or has changed. It’s my modern urban way of scratching the ancient hunter-gatherer itch. I got excited by the rusted metal pipe remains of his nose. The small things make my day.
My personal goal is to do the least to get the most. I try to make them feel as if they emerged on their own from what was naturally there. Sometimes my contribution is artificial and obvious, it’s more important to make a good expression than be austere but it’s part of my ethos to not overwork the image. This one is very minimal and that makes me happy.
Wanting a little more detail than the curved sticks were providing, I added additional eye features with spit. That’s availablism. Use what you have.
Some of you may recognize this face from Instagram, first posted in 2017, as #541. I walk by him most days and he looks about the same. However after a nice rain the evaporating water made his halo more pronounced and it was time to do another portrait! I knew right away he was special, such joie de vivre (French for joy of living). As you all know I post as many miserable faces as happy ones. I am always pushing to find greater emotional nuance in cement, sticks, stains and detritus. But whether my characters are content or sad, I am enriched by sharing them with all of you. They may speak to me but it’s when I read how you interpret them that I get my greatest joy.
You know how there is always some amount of nonsense that ruins everything? I am working on codifying that into a mathematical formula I would like to call the Asinine Factor. Multiply anything you want to achieve against it and come out 2 to 140,000 steps behind. It’s the universal wail of “Why?!!??” that we all scream at least once a year or maybe 10 times a day. Depends how lucky you are.
This is what got me ruminating on it. I am on my second pair of cool sneakers. Cool sneakers are for special occasions. They are there to signify to other people that you know what’s what. If you can’t afford to know what’s what on a regular basis you have to only wear them when you think someone might see you. Otherwise you wear the regular sneakers. I loved my first pair of cool sneakers and when the shine came off they actually became the regular sneakers. What a wonderful time that was. Even I thought I was cool for ten seconds. But eventually they wore down. They now live in retirement under my bedside table. You are supposed to have footwear nearby in the event of a nighttime earthquake event so you don’t cut your feet running down the hall of broken framed family portraits in the dark, calling out to the dogs. So no matter what I write next, I have that going for me. I’m not going to have bloody feet when I find out half my apartment is gone.
So my new cool sneakers are the same style, different color combo. Arc’teryx calls them the “Approach” shoe. According to the sales person, it’s the shoe you wear when you are approaching the mountain you’re going to hike. The implication being you would change into hiking boots upon getting to said mountain. What a world! So many specialty items! So little disposable income! I use mine to walk the same set of 10 blocks while my two small dogs pee on pee. We could call it the “Approaching Urination” shoe and it would be just as appropriate.
Stupidly I was wearing the approaching urination shoes for my own pleasure only to come home to the wonderful game of “Do you smell that?” Answer honestly, have you ever played that game and the outcome wasn’t dog shit? Chivalrously, husband said he would handle it for me. I usually handle my own shit but I’m stressed out with work and so I accepted. Turns out his offer was no different than being in denial. The shoe was placed by the backdoor where is has remained as an impediment to entry every since. Each time I kick it aside, I think a little more deeply about the Asinine Factor or AF for short.
The AF is about that portion of reality that can’t be made to go according to plan. I notice it everywhere. Let’s look at another example that is not at all similar and yet yields the same discouraging results: Adobe Creative Suite. So many updates, so many opportunities to trade expansive creative time for clenched jawed trouble shooting. What’s more soul enriching that googling the phrase: “.mov .mp4 thumbnails not showing in 2019”. I mean why even do art when I could learn and learn and learn and learn about preference settings and Mac OS incompatibilities. Just cuz it worked for the last two years doesn’t mean I don’t thrill to the romance of it not working today. Adobe you bad boy! And of course the horrible international health scare that is AF-ing every plan of every person on the planet.
So the AF is that which worked yesterday but does not work today. It’s the slow person weaving in front of you on a narrow sidewalk when you’re late to a movie. It’s a virus you’re thinking more about than politics. That’s weird! It’s the world where shitty shoes stand sentry to your comings and goings because your to do list has a year long wait list. Life may holds many joys and many sorrows but none go un-mixed with stupidity.