We are Australia – We Care

https://www.facebook.com/weareaustralia.wecare

We are Australia – We Care

In response to our ‘place making in public spaces’ assignment we were asked to choose a public space within the City West campus and develop an installation that responds to the unique attributes of that space.

I spent some time walking around the university campus, quietly observing spaces and how people interact with each space. The things I predominately noticed were:

  • Uni SA (city west) has a strong multicultural student body
  • most people don’t interact with space, they just travel through it without paying much attention to other people within the space or their surroundings (most people are on their phone)

I wanted to choose a space that had a high level of foot traffic, would be used by a large majority of all students attending Uni SA city west campus and would effect a commonly used space (make something they couldn’t ignore). I also wanted to make something important, something that commented on the current state of affairs in Australia, and the world. I wanted to create something that spoke personally of something I am passionate about.

I combined my appreciation of our multicultural student body with my passion for spreading love, support and kindness in the face of a world shadowed by negativity.

The project:

  • We are taking a series of portraits (in black and white because we wish to highlight that we are all human beings, regardless of where you were born)
  • We will be making boxes which will be covered in the portraits of people who want to show their support
  • The boxes will be three sided, allowing participants to step into the box
  • The boxes will have a hole cut out on one side, inviting participants to take a snap of their face in the box (a bit like those things you see at fairs, with the characters that you put your face in the hole and take a happy snap)
  • We encourage participants to upload their snaps onto our social media page (facebook)
  • If our first box is successful we will be running a crowd funding campaign to build more boxes and take this as far as we can

With the following explanation:

Please help me show the world that at the end of the day we are all human beings and we all deserve to feel safe and accepted !!

We are Australia – We Care

We have started this project to engage with everyday people who are proud to call a multicultural Australia home.

We want to cultivate a culture of love, acceptance and support in the face of a society bombarded with negativity fueled by differing cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs.

We are on a mission to show the world that we are a caring and accepting nation; we want to put faces to names and share the love. We are trying to create a loud and very public voice of positivity, love and acceptance, we would like to try and change public conversation…

There is too much negativity and animosity in this world … We are just trying to highlight the positive and focus on the beautiful and kind hearted people that are proud to put their face to the cause and show the world that they care!

Lets show our fellow Australians and the rest of the world that we are an accepting country, and that together we will support and fight for those being victimized or bullied.

Collaboration:

  • I built the photo booth with the help of Craig English and Thom Buchanan
  • Alannah Hee (fellow student) assisted me with the model release forms whilst I was taking photographs for the booth
  • Facebook (social media) – I requested that people send me “selfies” to show their support and I then printed these and added them to the booth
  • I emailed Julie Henderson requesting an email to be sent to the students to help encourage participation and student engagement

Initially I was hoping to install the box on George Street (outside of Dorrit Black) however unfortunately due to poor weather on the day of install ended up placing it in the foyer of Dorrit Black. This at first was quite disappointing for me because I had initially come up with the idea whilst watching students walk back and forth, up and down George Street over the course of a day. I chose George Street because it is one of the busiest walkways on the campus, and it is accessed by all of the students studying at city west (not just art students) as well as the general public. Considering this was a site-specific assignment I thought that by setting it up in the Dorrit Black building this would in fact take away from all of the site specific thoughts associated with my installation. However after watching people interact with the booth in Dorrit Black I realised that the installation fits just as well in Dorrit Black as it would have on George Street, the only real difference being the level of foot traffic.

Reflection:

I was hoping a few more people would interact and engage with my installation. I was a little disappointed by the lack of participation. I observed fellow students walking past and for the most part, they stopped, looked, walked around and read the information however did not enter or photograph the booth. In ideal circumstances I would’ve stayed with the booth, explained my installation and photographed people in the booth however due to time restrictions and work loads I was unable to dedicate the time to do this.

It has taught me that even with instructions people are hesitant to engage with something foreign in a public space regardless of how often they interact or pass through the space. It is a point of notice, people definitely stopped and looked at the booth however unfortunately did not interact any further with it. It has taught me that I need to take these things into consideration in the future and has given me valuable knowledge for future endeavors.

A great deal of people have shown a very positive interest in my project and have been very supportive. I have been overwhelmed by the number of people contacting me and telling me how much they admire what I’m doing and think that the concept is strong and very important. I have even had a lot of people contacting me requesting to get involved if I decide to take this beyond the uni assignment.

Even though I didn’t get the participation or engagement I desired I still feel as though the project was a success. I spread knowledge and information about social issues within our society that some people weren’t already aware of. I began conversations about important issues and met a lot of great people. I also learnt a lot about what it takes to plan and construct an object as well as the need to take into consideration possible outcomes prior to creating.

Digital technologies and social media are becoming increasingly and extensively integrated into our way of living, I really wanted to incorporate this into my installation idea. We communicate, inform and entertain ourselves through media technologies in disparate spaces. When digital technology is integrated into our everyday environment, the border between media interfaces and physical environments is blurred.

I liked the idea of taking the “selfie” and using it for a positive cause and the idea of sharing the idea and information via an online forum (facebook). It has been great to be contacted by complete strangers who felt the need to share their thoughts and support with me. It was important to me that I made something site specific that also spoke as a social commentary tool. I have learnt a lot about social interaction, social media, politics, art and how all of these communicate together. I think my idea is quite strong, it just needs a few of the bumps ironed out to make it a more successful installation.

The key phenomenon shaping these experiences with digital media technologies is interactivity. I plan to undertake research to further explore how interactivity plays into the relation between humans, technology, social space, social media and politics.

Further research and investigations that will stem from this investigation/installation:

I would like to continue to work on and push this idea further. I have plans to build another box/booth however I need to find ways to make it less “scary” and more inviting to encourage participation and engagement. At the moment I’m thinking about making it a suggestion booth perhaps incorporating charcoal paint and chalk on the outside, which will encourage people to approach and interact.

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