When Life Imitates Art

I haven’t owned a sketch pad in years, so I decided to get one the last time I picked up supplies at the art store.  I had taken some time to draw, with the idea that it might eventually inspire something three dimensional.  I decided to let my mind go blank and allow my hand do its thing.  This is an example of what came out.  It surprised me.

Eventually the lines started to remind me of cells, or maybe muscles, repairing themselves.  I wasn’t entirely sure which direction to take the sketches and decided to set them aside for a while.  Several weeks went by.

It’s been a long time since I developed a new, large installation, and since summer is approaching, I was gearing up to get to work on a new piece.  Yesterday, while being sexy and glamorous, I tore my calf muscle.  (OK, I was actually taking out the garbage.)  Alas, this injury will make things difficult for several weeks, if not months.

I suppose I’ll spend the coming days at work on more intimate art… like sketches of tissues healing.  Coincidence or foreshadowing?

Dick Head. Up & Around.

Ex-US Vice Prez, Dick Cheney, was said to be recovering heartily after a transplant of his original, tuckered-out ticker.  Cheney traded in Frankenstein’s heart for a fresh one.  Dick Head was also feeling full of piss and vinegar following some weekend repairs.  DH ventured out to get his new blood pumping.  Along the way he decided to search for a copy of his memoir, greet the little people, and grab some well-deserved nourishment at his fave local eateries.  A full recovery is eminent, probably.

“Dick Head” Artist: Jessie Wilson, Photos: Andre Elias

Eastside Emotions

Presenting Trial 3 of You Are Here, my experiment in emotional cartography.  You’ll find the full results below.  This round of testing took place on March 9th, 2012, over on the Eastside at the Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM).  Trial 3 began around dusk for the Members’ Reception, and continued into the evening, during BAMignite.

I enjoyed several stellar conversations about the project and was dually excited about all the meaningful questions and new ideas.  In fact, I had to create two new “categories” to present the BAM results, as several participants placed their emotional markers in previously uncharted territory.  I refer to those anomalies as “Circumplexian Sentiments” in the results.

So many patrons’ inquiries stumped me and made my brain itch a bit.   Many introduced completely new concepts to consider.  One participant turned me onto the work of artist Christian Nold, who has used GPS, people and polygraph to create “emotional maps” of cities.


It’s hard to say what my favorite interaction of the night was.  If I had to choose, perhaps it was a conversation I overheard between a participant and his friend.  A man tied a marker on the circumplex near a negative emotion, and in doing so, expressed that he was feeling exposed.  It’s awesome that he decided to interact honestly, despite feeling vulnerable.  Plus, the whole scene reminded me of a poster my grandparents used to have.  To my disappointment, no one flashed the installment, but I’m considering making that my new gauge of success.


 Trial 3 Results

Extremely Sensitive Information

Wa da ta.  I’m a tad delayed revealing outcomes from the latest round of You Are Here testing.  As you may know, a top-notch group of emotional revelers was analyzed at Sprout V on November 5th.

Emotional cartography with live human subjects never goes exactly as planned – it is a fickle and experimental process at best.  Since cutting edge technology, handwriting analysis and psychic octopi are used to thoroughly analyze the data, synthesizing an accurate visual of how participants are feeling can take some time.  Thanks for your patience.









I Get So Emotional, Baby

What’s that, Smokey?  You want to second that emotion?  Alright, wish granted.

I’m polishing up You Are Here for round two of emotional cartography with live human subjects.  On Saturday, November 5th I’ll be setting the piece up at at Sprout V.  I’d truly love to know how you’re feeling.

You know how people always ask how you are, but they don’t REALLY want to hear someone answer anything except “fine”?  Screw fine.  Fine is not an option at Sprout.

Come down and get emotional – let it all hang out.  Participate in art.  Eat, drink and hear about more art from their great lineup of presenting artists.  Replace your actual feelings with warm and fuzzy ones when the winner is announced.

By the way, these photos are from Greg Plumis, who kindly documented the first round of You Are Here testing at the NEPO 5k Don’t Run.  Gracias, Greg.

Survey Says

I’ve analyzed the initial data from preliminary testing of You Are Here at the NEPO House.  Participating 5k Don’t Runners experienced a wide range of emotion.  The evidence leads me to suspect that people may be complicated.  Feelings registered on the positive side overall, however some subjects experienced a sense of negativity, despite the presence of free tacos.

















Steal This Art

Around high noon, my pal Blair and I arrived at the NEPO house.  We were ready to spend our Saturday setting up my artwork for the 5k Don’t Run.  Before any assemblage could take place, we volunteered to block off the roads.  Power, authority, art, sun – it went to my head.  Eventually the perimeter was secured and we started building, just to the east of a giant gold pyramid that would eventually give birth to Hulk Hogan… but I digress.

Blair and I were up and running, setting up the main structure of my piece called You Are Here.  At the top of the device was a signpost with 8 spokes, one for each of the primary bipolar emotions as suggested in the theories of psychologist Robert Plutchik.  The emotions were tethered to blocks, representing more complex feelings.  Instructions on how to interact with the piece were written on the central post:

  • How are you?  This device is called You Are Here.  It’s an experiment in emotional cartography.  The main structure is called the circumplex.
  • The spokes represent basic emotions.  Blocks are more complex feelings formed when emotions combine.  The cord is the range between.
  • Take your own emotional pulse.  Choose a marker and hang it on the circumplex.  Select a location that represents how you feel.
  • We are often pulled between two or more emotional states.  If you are here, choose another marker and repeat.

The more I explored Plutchik’s classification system for human emotional responses, the more I was enamored by it.  However the way he assigned and grouped emotions by color did not resonate with me.  I don’t really associate yellow with joy, or green with trust, and so forth.

For You Are Here I made more than 800 sparkly markers of different colors, patterns and levels of reflectiveness.  I loved the way the prismatic surfaces interacted with the light; this was much more representative of dynamic human emotions to me – shifting, ever changing, reactive to their environment.  This way people could find a marker that appealed to them, or one that was representative of their own emotional state.

Once the structure was up, it was time to watch.  Surely the day’s events would have an effect on the outcome of the experiment.  As people came by and started to interact with the piece, it began to grow.  An afternoon of sunshine, exercise, and creativity led many participants to tie markers around love, and joy, and awe.  Others were gauging their emotions on a broader time line, perhaps choosing contempt because of a work situation, or remorse for an opportunity missed, or sadness over a loss.  I watched to see if a pattern developed in people’s color choices, but it didn’t.

I spent the majority of the evening near You Are Here, but on the fringes.  It is always fascinating to watch people interact with themselves through your artwork.  One woman danced beneath the circumplex with a tambourine before selecting her marker.  I wasn’t sure if she was cleansing the structure or celebrating.  Either way I felt joy at what I was witnessing.

One man, who I have never met, was pretty good at explaining the piece.  He would stand by the table and tell others how it worked.  I thought he was quite articulate and helpful.  He had no idea I was the artist.

People seemed to like sifting through the markers to find one that worked for them, especially kids.  Each of the markers had at least one mate, except for one super secret, unique marker.  I didn’t tell anyone that it existed and was watching to see if someone used it and where it might land.  Of course, my friend James found it right away and hung it near aggression, where anger and anticipation join forces.

It was also interesting to watch people steal the art.  I say steal because sometimes it didn’t seem so innocent or accidental.  I would watch people choose a marker, look around to see if anyone was watching and slide it into their pocket.  One person tied some onto her dog.  He was feeling prismatic orange, apparently.  Most of the time I simply observed, amused.  I did intervene with one lady who was loading them into her purse by the handful.  She told me to hush, she was “taking them home for her kids”.  She looked fantastic for having 27 children.

When I made the markers, I figured there would be sticky fingers.  I hadn’t anticipated how often I would have to witness the act, or how it would make me feel.  I guess people really can’t help themselves around shiny things.  Still, I left my marker where joy and anticipation join to form optimism – it was a good experiment.

I had to take the structure apart while the party was still going and get back to Bremerton, where I’ve been house sitting.  I hurriedly cut down the cord, tossed the tangled mess into a box and split.  On my drive back, I started to feel really bad about my actions – it occurred to me that these were a lot of people’s feelings that I had handled rather carelessly.  Today I decided to remedy my mistake, so I found a special place and put yesterday’s used emotions out to warm up in the sun.

829 Reasons to Don’t Run

The NEPO House Don’t Run 5k is fast approaching and I’m deep into art mania.  Over the last week I’ve been whipping myself into prime creative shape… making 829 little markers for my piece in the 5k called You Are Here.  Join the madness this Saturday 9/10/11.






Don’t Runners who choose participate in You Are Here will be asked to select markers that appeal to them and tie those onto a larger structure of cord and wood called the circumplex.  The structure serves as a map of human emotional states.  Hopefully the experiment will result in a visual representation of how participants have been feeling.




The black disks in the above pictures have gone through steps 1-4 (of 7)… times 829 = what the hell was I thinking?!?!  Since it’s Labor Day, I’m gonna take a break so my hands can uncramp.  By Saturday, the markers will be finished and should look a little something like this.