Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Listening Station in Residence at the Crefeld School

Both Listening Stations are now in residence at The Crefeld School, a private alternative day school in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, where they are available for use by students (grades 7-12), faculty, and staff.
I will be visiting the school's Morning Meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 13th, to introduce The Listening Station to the school community.

Here are some questions for the folks at Crefeld to think about when you post your comment to the blog. Please remember to maintain confidentiality! Keeping your comment about your own experience with the Listening Station is the best way to play it safe.

What was the situation like in which you decided to use the Listening Station? How did you feel about deciding to try it for the first time?
What was it like for you when you were listening? What was it like for you when you were speaking?
How do you think this project would seem different to you if you came across it on the sidewalk, in a public place? Do you think you would stop to try it? Would you use it with a stranger?
What ideas do you have about what you would talk about next time you use the Listening Station?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Listening Station visits UPenn

Today I brought the Listening Stations to visit Mara Mills' class: "Things That Talk", a sound studies course offered by the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mara and I met when she brought a student from the course to visit the Listening Station at the International House installation.
I'll be posting images and thoughts on the visit soon! Stay tuned also for comments posted by the students from the course on their experience and thoughts on the Listening Station.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Listening Station at The International House

The Listening Station was at The International House
from January 11 to February 2, 2007

The Listening Station was permanently installed on the upper level of the International House lobby, available for use by all who visit the building.

I was present to facilitate and discuss the project on four Thursday evenings from 5-7 pm throughout the installation.
( January 11, January 18, January 25, and February 1)

Participants were invited to visit with someone you would like to take turns listening with, or to participate with me or someone whom they have not met before.

Unlike the previous outdoor installations of the Listening Station, which were more temporary, this installation enabled and required me to provide a structure for eliciting feedback. On the street, I was always present to discuss participants' reactions after they used the station with me or someone else. At the International House, I would only be present at the installation for a few hours each week. I wanted to have a way to know a little bit about how the station was being used when I was not there. Participants were asked to record and describe their Listening Station experience in a few words on a small feedback form, and to post it on one of the bulletin boards.

The feedback forms also provided insight into the varying responses to the Listening Station for other participants.

On the third Thursday evening, I had a group of young people from my synagogue community visit as part of their Torah School program. They mainly used the stations with each other and their parents, but I got a turn too...

Over the month at the International House, I began to notice that I was facilitating the use of the stations much less than I had on the street. Passersby in the International House were much less likely to express interest directly to me than folks often were on the corner at 40th and Walnut. There were also just fewer people available in the lobby in the evenings.

I began to notice myself stepping back to observe others using the installation, letting them reflect on their own by using the feedback forms. I think that part of this new attitude was the new context that I had created for the Listening Station. This installation met part of my goal for the Listening Station in general- that it exist on its own, separate from me as a personality, as the "artist".

Coming soon on my website will be scanned images of the feedback forms...

Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the International House Listening Station installation!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

listening station installations for october

The next installations of the listening station will be for

Philadelphia Open Studio Tours:

friday, october 6:
6-8 pm

the POST kick-off reception
at the constitution center, 525 Arch St.


saturday and sunday, october 7 & 8:

noon- 6pm
at my Open Studio
4013 Chestnut St, West Philadelphia

as usual, bring someone with you, or come on your own and try the listening station with me or with someone you have not met before.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday, September 16

This is the first time I've been out with the Listening Station on a week-end. While there are more people out on the street, especially towards evening, there's not that much of a difference in their willingness to stop for a few minutes.

The first user of the day is a woman who is on her way to the ATM from the diner. We take just one minute each, so that she can get back to her breakfast.

Jim came back again today, on his way home from visiting an African-American Jewish congregation with the West Philly synagogue. I forgot to ask him what brought him back a second time- maybe he'll post a comment here for us.

After a long lull, during which I walked around the block a bit ( being out on the street with the listening station for 3 hours is a lot different than being out for one hour!), an artist who I had met through a craigslist posting about studio space arrivd with her partner. They were excited to try out the station, and remarked that it felt quite different from a regular conversation. He noticed that he used the time to give a report on his day, which was different from how she had talked about things.

A short while later, a woman and her boyfriend stopped by. She was definately more interested than he was, and she convinced him to try it with her. When I asked afterwards, she told me it seemed like "a complete waste of time", which I could beleive judging from the look on his face. The listening station is like a lot of things - you get out of it what you put into it...

My last visitors are a man and his nephew, who give it a try for a short time. I end up just having an off-station conversation with him about creating a website or blog to document his work with homeless men on the "back streets".

Throughout the day, the students who came by were a little more curious, and I had a few short interactions with folks, inviting them to give it a try. But in the end, there were still no students who decided to actually stop and try the listening station. Not that this particular population was my ultimate goal- I have been working towards a goal of general involvement with whoever I encountered. Simply offering the possibility of a different kind of experience in the daily public life of the city is one of the purposes of this project. And in that respect, I feel I have been successful.

The next installation of the listening station may be in 30th Street Station... stay tuned!

Friday, September 15

My second day out during the UPenn fall semester, and another slow start.
I hang back at the wall often, observing the reactions of passersby. More often than not, students and others just completely ignore the presence of a new signpost and two strange benches on the sidewalk. My presence is also often ignored- even when folks stop for a moment to read the signs on the post or on the benches. I'm keeping to my approach of only asking, "would you like to try the listening station?" of people who pause and take notice of me or the installation, so as not to end up feeling too aggressive. The majority shake their head, or tell me, " I'm just reading the sign, thanks".
I realized later today that I forgot my most effective response: " It's meant to be used!"

Still, a few people are curious and open enough to stop and try it out.

This young man tells me a little about life as a recent college graduate, and I convince another man walking by to take our picture.

A few minutes later, a group of young people come by, having come from the library. They are curious to try it out, and end up creating a three-way listening station. They told me, " it's hard to just listen!" - but these three seem to have friendly and close relationships already, and used their time on the station to laugh and joke at their listeners.

After a slow hour, my friend Mary comes by and spend a while chatting with me on and off the station. While she's there, an acquaintance from the neighborhood shows up, and elects to use the station with Mary, since he knows less about her than about me. By this time, Mary is an old pro, and she shows Jim how it's done.

Like yesterday, despite their many numbers, no Penn students stop to use the station. Many of them who pass this corner are coming from the grocery store, their hand full with plastic bags- so I don't expect them to stop. But even those who aren't in as much of a hurry are surprisingly resistant... I'll keep at it tomorrow, and see what I can do.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thursday, September 14

The first rainy listening station day, above is the LS in rain gear.

Accordingly, not a lot of users today... the higher proportion of students now on the street also seems to make for a less interested public in general.

Old philly theatre friends Jeanette and Perry came by with Jules, on their way to a fringe show. I ended up only using the station with Perry, but had a nice long talk with Jeanette about life and art. Perry mentioned an artist who did performance pieces in places where she knew she'd be caught on surveillance video- and then, we noticed this sign:
maybe I don't need to get someone out here to video-document the piece after all.

Next, a pair of young folks stop to use the station ( not pictured) - once they got a little instruction, they seem to take the whole thing as just another part of their day, and don't comment much to me when they finish.

The last user for the day, as it turns out, is a young woman who doesn't live far from me. She's very enthusiastic about the idea of this public endeavor, and we take a few minutes each.
It's not quite 7 yet ( actully, more like 6 pm) but the drizzle starts to become a bit more regular, and eventually it becomes clear that people are not going to want to sit and be wet on a public art installation. I pack up and leave with the help of my car ( I'm having some kind of lower back spasm today) and call it a day.
Hoping for a drier day tomorrow...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wednesday, September 13

This evening I brought the listening stations to Rittenhouse Square, in Center City Philadelphia. I was there as part of the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours' artist's table. The table, and my stations, were set out to take advantage of the crowd gathered for the last of the Concerts in the Park series.
I arrived around 6:30, with Ken's help.

As people gathered to listen to the dj opening for the live band, a few folks ventured to try out the stations.

The first to stop were a young boy and his Aunt, with little sister in the stroller. He wanted to try using it with me, but about 20 seconds into his minute of being listened to, decided that he'd rather use it with auntie.
It took some doing, but eventually this fellow used the station for two minutes each with me. He had some interesting insights into the sociological aspects of my project, after listening to me muse on the differences in the crowd at rittenhouse and the people who are usually coming by at 40th and Walnut.

While he and I were using the station, these two women sat down on their own and shared 5 minutes each.
as darkness fell, I found that fewer folks were willing to stop and try the stations. Or, it might have been the excellent grooves coming from the band on stage.

I used the station with two of the other Philadelphia Open Studio Tours artists. Shortly after taking a turn with one of them, I left to find a bathroom. I encouraged her ( not pictured) to use the station with someone else while I was gone. She found a young man to try it out with her, and apparently made a nice connection with him

The last visitor of the evening was a woman who had just come from visiting the grand opening of a new pet store with her dog.
If you used the listening station at Rittenhouse ( or if you didn't), please post a comment on your experience or thoughts on this project!

The Listening Stations will be back out at 40th and Walnut
( weather permitting, check back here later today)
from 4-7 pm
Today, Thursday the 14th, Friday 15, and Saturday 16 of September, 2006.
see you on the street!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Listening Station Week 3 coming up!

The third installation is coming up-
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, September 14, 15, and 16
4-7 pm
at the southeast corner of 40th and Walnut, West Philadelphia

Bring someone who you would like to listen to, and who would like to listen to you.
Or, come by yourself and take a turn with me or someone else you haven't met before.

Rain will cancel the installation- check back here the day of, if the weather's bad.

Hope to see you on the street!

Friday, August 18

oops! I never got around to posting on this day- I'll get to it soon!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thursday, August 17

Without a helper, I have to carry the stations one at a time from my studio today. When I get to the corner with the first one, I have two people waiting for me! A friend, Monica, and a new acquaintance and fellow public-artist, RA. They use one of the stations while I run back for the other one.

When I come back, Monica and I take a turn.

When we were done, a few people had gathered in curiosity - following the principle that RA and I had discussed, that people on the street will only stop to check something out if it looks like something is already going on. These two people were both curious and asking questions, so I explained a little, and then suggested that they try it together, which they did!

When they were done, I used the station with the woman, who was very excited about her observations on her own process when using the station. She noticed that she went from awkwardly introducing herself, to telling about her day, to reflecting on how the events of her life are affecting her emotionally.

The last participants for the day are a pair of friends who were apparently engaged in a conversation as they walked down the street, in which one friend was dominating. When they finished using the station, he commented that when it was time for him to speak, he seemed to have lost his train of thought, and spent the time noticing and commenting on what was going on around him on the street.

Wednesday, August 16

I arrive at the corner to find a woman in a red shirt, who asks, " are you here for me?" I guess that she is someone who has heard of the project from my emails or the recent press in the Philadelphia Weekly- my hunch is confirmed when it is my turn to listen, and she tells me that she is Libby, she of the Fallon and Rosof artblog, who I have had on my mailing list for a few months now. It's a pleasure to finally meet her, and after we take a few minutes each, we chat about the nature of engaging the public in art actions. She hangs around for a while in the hopes of catching me with another user, but no luck. There don't seem to be as many people out as usual, and not a single person stops to use the station off the street today!

Later in the hour, my friend and housemate Liz comes by, and we take 3 minutes each before hoisting the stations on our shoulders and making our way back to my studio.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday, August 15

Another late afternoon in the sun... my housemate Michael helps me carry the stations from the studio, and then has to run to do an errand.

I get set up, and then hang back at the wall for a few minutes. A woman about my age comes to rest on the wall, but declines to try the station. After over-hearing me explaining the project to a couple of other passers-by, she decides to try it out after all ( not pictured). We take 2 minutes each, and she tells me that this is a different kind of experience- she is accustomed to writing her thoughts out, but not speaking them in this way.

After she leaves, a few of the same friendly young travelers from yesterday stop by, bringing others with them. The woman who had been here before explained to two others how to use the station, while I oriented two men who took an interest at the same time.

I get to hold their puppy while the stations were in use. This dog has a reputation for being a bad-ass, because on the night of the police confrontation, he made his way on his own from center city all the way back to the west philly squat house these folks are staying in. ( see Monday, August 14)

Everyone dispersed, and my next taker is a warm-hearted fellow-artist. Here he is perusing the use-log chart. After our 2 minutes each, he gave me a warm hug, and reminded me to stay real, as I am.

Towards the end of the hour, a pair of young boys biked up with curiosity. They tried it out for one minute each, using it in the spirit of a game, as I had noticed other young people have done. When they finish, one of the boys asks if they can do it again!

They take another 2 minutes each before getting back on the bike to go to football practice.

if you've tried it, don't forget to post a comment on your experience with the listening station!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday, August 14

A warm afternoon in West Philly... I begin with Ken, who helped me bring the stations from the studio. This week I am bringing out both listening stations, which will allow me to invite passersby when two other people have already begun to use a station.

Ken and I end up going back and forth with 2-minute turns, talking and listening on some ideas for our relationship, and on how annoyed I am with the police car parked right next to "my" spot- right under a "NO parking at any time" sign.
( and, look ma, sandbags!)

As Ken is leaving, a friend of his from the Temple MBA program comes along with his partner. They try out the station, and commented afterwards on how different it feels from an informal conversation, with its back-and-forth rhythm.

For a while, I get no takers, but people are definately not in as much of a hurry as they seemed to be during the morning hour of the first week's installation. I have a number of friendly interactions with people who express interest in coming back on another day with a colleague or friend. Having the information cards that I printed today seems to help with folks who are curious but not ready to try it.

A young man who seemed curious comes back around and spends two minutes telling me all about himself as if in a personals ad. He is from Turkey, a computer programmer, these are his favorite movies, etc... He seems like a lovely person, but I make sure to mention my boyfriend when it's my turn to talk. Even so, when we are done he asks if I have a boyfriend, and still
suggests that I come over for dinner tonight. I decline, but am excited to have an open invitation to get to know him and hear some traditional Turkish music.

While we were on the station, a few
young punk/anarchist travelers gathered on the library wall. I ask them where they are from, and we have a great conversation about traveling, dumpster-diving, police aggression and militant vegan straight-edge gangs. Eventually, they all decided to try the listening station.

While they all were going at it, my housemate Isaac and his friend Natalie showed up. The first time people were waiting in line to use the listening station!

Isaac noticed that for him, it was easier to listen than to talk for two minutes. We also discussed the various styles of listening- whether to respond with facial expression or not, to maintain complete silence, or to include non-verbal sounds of acknowledgement. I've noticed that I tend to use different listening styles depending on who I am listening to and what they are speaking about.

While Natalie and Issac are using the station, I strike up a conversation with a young woman who is working as a UPenn security guard for this
corner. Her shift started at 5 pm, and she'll be on the job until 3 am. I step away for a minute to take a few pictures, and she starts encouraging other passers-by to try the listening station- great!

She and I take 3 minutes each before Natalie, Isaac and I pack up the stations and signpost for the day.

ps- did you use the listening station today? please post a comment on your experience!