We are almost halfway through the month of November, and halfway through the first phase of the TrIP (Transit Interpretation Project). We have been passing a 30 day Lynx (central Florida bus system) pass to a person of a different discipline everyday this month. We have given a few day passes to a few who could not commit to a particular day because of unpredictable work or life schedules. Thirty days after your ride, we want some evidence of your experience. It can be a work in progress or a finished piece. It can be a photo with a caption or a nine hour video. That’s up to the artist. In the end we hope to have lots of stories about the bus, Orlando and the people who live here. When I say stories, they might be sketches, field recordings, essays, photos or whatever best tells your story. TrIP is not just concerned about a literal story of a bus ride. It’s the whole experience. What you do when you get there (wherever that is), might be the story you want to tell. It is called the Transit Interpretation Project. The name suggests freedom of expression. I expect I will see plenty of that.
I spent Monday and Tuesday wandering through the three counties that Lynx covers, Orange, Seminole and Osceola. I did a lot of walking through Kissimmee. I got lost. I saw some beauty, some hideousness and many things that might be considered forgettable. I have been thinking a lot about what is forgettable to one person, but stands out to another. Alice Munro who just won a Noble Prize in Literature gained fame writing about Huron County in Ontario. It’s an area that would be insignificant to the rest of the world, if she had not made it significant. William Faulkner put Oxford Mississippi on the map. Artists can help others see the sense of place. One of my favorite examples is the artist Robert Smithson. He is most famous for his Spiral Jetty permanent Land Art installation. In 1967 Smithson wrote a an article in Art Forum called The Monuments of Passaic. The article was a celebration of the industrial blight of Smithson’s hometown Passaic, New Jersey. He looked at Passaic through the eyes of an artist. He was not bogged down by the usual judgements that we learn. Smithson’s article was met with the type of scorn that Duchamp’s Readymades were met with over fifty years before. Now Smithson’s work is an important part of the art world. He died in a plane crash in 1973 at the age of 38, while scouting a site for site specific art. His writings, and his art have asked us to not only look at art differently, but to look at the world differently.