Think about the future!

One of the things that I’ve been pleasantly surprised with as my project has progressed is the possibility of expanding this work into a larger, or even different project.  It wasn’t something that I anticipated at all in the beginning, particularly as I struggled to refine and better understand my work, as well deal with the challenges I encountered in simply getting potential interviewees to pay attention to me!

But, excitingly, I now see a chance for my work to continue.

It all began with a simple meeting with Jay, a.k.a. J.SON, a.k.a. TERROR 161, who happily agreed to be filmed for this project.  So we met early one morning in the back of a noisy diner on the Upper West Side and chatted about his memories of graffiti in the 1970’s and 1980’s, as well as the work that went into his book, Graffiti 365.  The conversation lasted for several hours, and I wound up with a bunch of great material to consider for mapping on URT.

Innocently, I uploaded a very rush edit of the footage to share with Jay, but was planning to wait to show it to him after he returned from Miami and his book launch event at Art Basel.  I’d only told one person about the video, and yet the very next day, my video suddenly had nearly 200 hits.  And then then next day, another 200 (oh, interwebs, you never fail to surprise and amaze me)!

It turned out a graffiti blog had picked it up, and yet I was actually embarrassed that I hadn’t sent it to Jay to review.  Happily, he was thrilled with the response and immediately asked when we could film more.

Indeed, I want to film more.  I’m excited to continue.  But I also feel challenged by the prospects.  Within the confines of a semester project, the goal is fairly clear, the end date is fixed.  There are clear parameters around the information we’re collecting and framing.

Moving a project like this beyond the semester brings up many questions.  What are we filming for?  What is the final product going to be?  And how does this shape the questions I will ask, the location we will film, the detail I will be looking for and examining further through film, etc?

I can only imagine one way do to this: collaboratively.  Jay is a new author who needs material for his website, as well as anything that can help him generate a greater buzz around his book.  As this part of the project wraps up, there is a great opportunity for us to reexamine the work, and to either continue along the same lines, or shift in a slightly different direction.  I think this freedom is a wonderful thing, but I’m also cautioned by the desire NOT to simply film until I can’t film no’ mo’.  There still needs to be a goal, and a framework, and as long as we’re able to develop that together, I think this will be a great experience for me to continue working on a subject about which I’m thrilled to learn more.


One comment

  1. This is really exciting, Sara. This is often a big challenge for students: figuring out how to go beyond the assignments and the predictable timeframe of a graduate class, and to begin to define and plot out challenges for yourself. You obviously already know a lot of the questions you have to ask yourself — about purpose, audience, etc. — and how those questions lead to further questions: about method, collaboration, etc. The fact that you’re already *asking* these questions — even if the answers might take a while to emerge — suggests that you’re setting up a great structure to build future work. I wish you the best of luck with what’s yet to come!

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