February 15th, 2012

Making Your Mark on the World

Are you making your mark? Standing out? Blending in? Collaborating? Rebelling? In this art piece, the first person that leaves a mark has some significance – what they do shows up. And as time goes on, marks are made, they can strive to be different and creative, or simply random and without much thought. They can go with the flow by placing their marks near where others have chosen (favorite spots?) or stand away from the crowd. Eventually the individual is lost and what is done collectively becomes something new and much greater than what an individual can accomplish. Patterns emerge. Watch:

Over time:

  • Most marks are made at eye level, on the walls.
  • Fewer people put their mark on the soft seating of the sofas. (Perhaps it’s because the placement seems like it will dislodge or be sat upon.)
  • Fewer people mark the floor. (Perhaps it’s because their mark will be walked upon.)
  • Most people do the expected – a dot here and there.
  • Some people place smaller dots on larger dots, some line up or group their dots.
  • Some individuals break ground and start patterns that others want to contribute to.
  • Some follow these leaders or work with others to create larger patterns in organized ways. (Note the groupings of colors on the far wall.)
  • The marks that stray from the norm stand out or have the potential to be noticed more.

I’m ever so curious as to how many marks are under the couches, chairs and tables.

This reminds me of “Juliet’s Balcony” in Verona, Italy. The passageway leading to the courtyard where the rumored balcony resides is covered in grafitti — love messages layered upon one another. I wrote a message there, too, once. I knew it would be quickly (?) covered by other messages, but there was a compulsion to add to the menagerie. I leaned in to read a few messages, but they easily get drowned out in the cacophony of the collective message of “love.”

These are all contributions to communication within a limited framework. In one, the limitations are dots and a room and everyone was handed the same “medium.” In the other it’s messages about love in a passageway. In San Luis Obispo, the limitations are an alley and bubblegum.

So often our ego cries out to be noticed as an individual. To make a difference and be noticed. People don’t vote because they feel their drop in the bucket doesn’t make a difference. When you get a million people feeling like that, it certainly makes a difference.

This art piece reminds me of what our contribution can be as humans living amongst larger, more diverse populations. Human relationships, goals and conflicts are challenging on a personal one-on-one basis at times — how much more so when we multiply that by millions in a world of nations. How do the marks of individuals not get obliterated or trampled on by others who are just trying to make their own marks?

Every little individual act matters because it makes up the whole. You just don’t get to be the whole.

Where and how would you have placed your mark in these places? Where and how are you placing your mark upon the world?

Do . Relate