Happy Events

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Today is Day Twenty-One.

I am… a lot of things. Amazed. Delighted. Relieved. Sad. Exhausted. And a little bit disbelieving. There is a lot to say, but I’m going to save it for tomorrow, once I’ve had a chance to absorb it all a little more.

For today’s project, I hung red balloons in my favourite tree at the primary school I went too.

I have fond, fond memories of that place – primary school was great; and that tree in particular… I spent a lot of time hanging out near that tree. That’s where I waited every morning and afternoon; we played ridiculous tree related games there at lunch and recess, or just flopped down in the shade on hot days; and one afternoon I spent 45 minutes stuck in that tree because everybody else had gone home and I couldn’t get down. Good times.

A brief note on today’s project: this is probably one of the least sensible projects I’ve done. Going to a primary school at midnight: not a good idea (hi there, security guard). Lurking at said primary school at drop off time with a camera and a telephoto lens: not a good idea (hi there, angry parents). Again, huge thanks to Pig and Kev, who have spent the last 3 weeks not only putting up with my insanity, but actively helping me realise it. Today’s project would never have gotten off the ground if they hadn’t been willing to help out (quite literally – they did all the high branches!). Thanks again, guys. Love you.

It was nice to finish up with a project where I did get to see the reactions. I lurked at the school from about 8:30 onwards, and watched as the kids arrived.

It was brilliant. I’m not quite sure how I was expecting the kids to react (I hadn’t really thought beyond the beautiful visual of a balloon tree), so I was pleasantly suprised when the immediate reaction was to pull the balloons out of the tree and start popping them!

It may sound strange to say I was thrilled that my project had been pretty much entirely demolished by 8:45am, but it was honestly fantastic. I cannot count the times over the last 3 weeks that I have watched someone look at one of my projects, consider it, and then very carefully Not Touch it. Seeing these kids just throw themselves in and go for it was great – they weren’t thinking “what is this? is it a trap?”, they were thinking “ooh, balloon!”

They obviously had fun with it, so I think today’s project was entirely successful. They laughed, I heard them.

Today’s project title Anti-Climax is not intended to reflect badly on today’s project. I think it was the perfect way to tie my project up – I didn’t want to do some amazing arena spectacular event. I wanted something small, beautiful, and everyday. Because happiness should happen every day. This is the “end” of my 21 Days of Organized Joy, but the joy will carry on. Today’s project is called Anti-Climax because joy should never climax – I want it to go on and on forever.

And in some way, it will. I will talk about this more tomorrow, in my final reflection, but – I think I’ve started to find where I want to go with my art and with my life. This project may have come to a close; but the concept is going to live on for a very, very, long time.

And, for the last time, may I say: many more photos up on the Anti-Climax set on the Make Your Day Flickr.



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Today’s event – happy “road signs” all over Canberra Northside – is one that I’ve been preparing for the last week or so, and I am incredibly excitied to actually see the results. Just to note: No public property was harmed in the making of this project – the signs are all attatched to the poles using zip-ties.

I made a variety of signs out of MDF (kindly jigsaw’d by Andrew), and spray painted stencils onto them. They’re not the most professional looking of signs, but I actually really like the obviously homemade aesthetic. I think it reminds people that these signs didn’t just appear; somebody created them and deliberately left them there.

The signs are scattered all about the place in the northern suburbs of Canberra. I deliberately avoided main roads, so as not to distract people doing 80km/hour.

I think the signs turned out really nicely. Again, this is a hard project to gauge people’s reactions to, and I just have to rely on the feedback I’m getting from the photographs. Which has been positive, so something must have gone right.

The “right way keep going” sign and the “:)” sign are my two favourite. Unfortunately the right way keep going was the first sign I stenciled, so I hadn’t quite gotten the technique down yet, but oh well.

Huge thanks to Piggy and Kev, who went out very early in the AM with me last night to put the signs up. Wouldn’t have been able to do it without you, guys – thanks so much.

More photographs are up on the Directions Set on the Flickr.



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Day Seventeen: Change

Today was low key, fairly unobtrusive joy day. It’s been a big weekend, and I felt like I needed a little project in preperation for the massive week ahead.

So I left chocolate coins in change spots. Pay phones, ticket machines, children’s ride on toys, tip jars – if you can find change there, I left change there. Tasty, tasty change.

I also gave chocolate money to a very lovely man asking for money – it wasn’t quite what he was after, but he seemed to enjoy it. And the waiter who got a chocolate tip had a good giggle as well.

Not a lot of photographs today – there’s only so many times you can photograph a payphone or a ticket machine; but those that there are are up on today’s set on the flickr.



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This is Eustace.
He took me approximately 15 hours to build. It took the Zombie Beatdown Mob less than 15 minutes to completely pulverise him.

It didn’t actually occur to me until after the event, but today’s event was essentially a flash mob. We came, we beat a zombie, we dispersed.

It was pretty awesome. Most of the people who were there knew about it in advance, but we did get some passing randoms involved. It was a lot of fun, and people really seemed to get into the spirit of the event, which was really thrilling for me. Playing pinyata is a little silly looking, so I thought people would probably be reluctant, but it wasn’t really an issue. People played, which was what I was after. A little bit of fun and silliness.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have armed the players with a fairly solid cricket bat. Perhaps Eustace would have lasted a little longer that way…

This was the killing blow that actually decapitated Eustace and sent him to the ground, where he was promptly torn to shreads. And then beaten some more. Vicious bunch, these beatdowners. Driven mad by their lust for candy, no doubt.

One of the highlights of the event for me was the passing muppet who took a swing at Eustace’s crumpled body. Even muppets hate zombies.

It’s starting to get a little old saying this, but – I really, really enjoyed today. I had fun, other people had fun – what more could I actually ask for? It would have been nice to get some more photographs, because there was a lot going on and the lighting was pretty poor… but if that’s the worst part of today, today went pretty damn well.

Lots more photographs are up on the Zombie Beatdown set on the Flickr.



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Today’s little joy was accomplished with the aid of a pair of (blunt) scissors, a roll of tape, and 20m of bubblewrap. Quite simply, there are very few pleasures in life greater than popping little bubbles – but how often do you actually come across bubble wrap in your day to day life? Bubblewrap is a rare treat.

But not today! Today, the ANU was festooned with bubblewrap.

I wandered around campus, wrapping a variety of objects. Generally I tried to wrap objects that people interact with – chairs, tables, etc – on the premise that it would encourage people to actually pop the bubble wrap, rather than just staring at it in bemusement.

The PJs sauce bottles didn’t last long (neither did the table I wrapped) – staff removed the bubblewrap pretty quickly. The stuff in the rest of the ANU survived a lot longer though.

I think the most successful was the banister in Union Court – a lot of people saw me wrapping it, and several of them stopped and had a chat about what I was doing; and lots of people popped the bubbles as they walked past.

I also bubblewrapped a Zebra crossing, which was quite fun. A very nice maintenance man offered me a witches hat, so I wouldn’t get run over; and some girls passing by had a good laugh and jumped on it, which was fun to see.

I was really pleased with how today went. I got a lot of feedback from people who saw what I was doing – and a lot of them mentioned previous events to me and asked me if I was responsible for those as well. I was prepared with business cards again today, so I handed out a few of those. It was a really nice day for me, and I saw quite a few other people having fun with it as well.

More photographs on the Bubblewrap Day Set on the Flickr.



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So, I was up before the sun this morning to hang a morning greeting from the bridge across Belconnen way. I’m like some sort of joyful Canberran Santa, but with less beard, less red, and less fat. Just to note, I am more or less incoherent with exhaustion. The sunrise was worth it, though.

I think the banner came off quite well – it was large enough to read; but not so large as to be unmanagable.

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to fasten it to the bridge properly and it would fly off, cause an accident, and I would be the first ever ANU Art student to kill someone in the pursuit of art; but thankfully 8 ties, a lot of thread; and a roll of tape secured it well enough. I did take the banner down myself though – I was very uncomfortable with the idea of leaving it there unsupervised.

It was pretty hard to gauge people’s reactions, given that they were in fast moving cars – but some people honked at the banner, so I at least I know it got noticed.

Today was fairly exhausting, but satisfying. I hope everyone had a good day today.

More photos on Today’s Set on the Flickr.



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Day Ten: Bottle Drop

Today I left messages in bottles throughout Belconnen.

Each bottle contained a handwritten note with a positive message on it. I made sure the notes were sticking out of the top of the bottle, so people would be sure to notice them and not confuse the bottles with rubbish.

I left 30 bottle messages in all sorts of places – some discreet, some obvious. I know at least two of them were discovered – a friend heard some people joking about one of them; and when I went back past another the message was gone but the bottle was still there. I hope someone got a smile from that one.

The bottle drop went pretty well, apart from the weather. It intermittently poured with rain, which complicated things a little. I ended up having to call the drop off early, when it started bucketing down and I stopped being able to feel my toes.

Photos of most of the dropped bottles are up on the Bottle Drop Set on the Make Your Day Flickr.



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Today’s happy event was a cupcake stall at Gorman House Markets.

The premise was pretty simple. People decorated their cupcake, I photographed their cupcake, they are their cupcake. From left to right: Cupcakes, Napkins, Blue Icing, Pink Icing, Gummi Bears, Smarties, Jelly Beans, Party Lollies, Chocolate Freckles.

It went really well – it was a big hit with the kids, who weren’t at all phased by being offered free cupcakes; and once adults got over the shock of not having to pay, some of them got involved as well.

I was prepared with business cards this morning, so I was able to give them to people who were curious about what I was doing. I was a little less prepared for the effects of the sun – it didn’t quite click for me that sunshine actually melts things. But it didn’t get too messy, so it was okay. And people made some amazing cupcake creations.

I had a really fun time, and I got really positive reactions from everybody who went past. I was there for about an hour and a half overall, and it was excellent. Even if I did enough warm lollies to make myself ill – oops.

As always, there are ridiculous amounts of photographs up on today’s set on the flickr. Big thanks to Cathy at Gorman House Markets, who let me set up and didn’t even charge me a stall fee (ahh, nepotism).



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Today I left a path of happiness from the Peter Karmel Building to Myers and then back again.

There were a few dramas getting magnets printed, but it all worked out in the end. Since it was just black and white text, it didn’t have to be particularly high quality.

Over the course of about an hour and a half, I distrubuted about 50 positive messages through Civic. I quickly discovered that not all metallic surfaces are magnetic (that hadn’t even occured to me) – but thankfully most pole, bins, benches, bicycles and cars are.

I tried to leave messages in both discreet, suprising places, and really obvious places where someone will definately happen across them. I didn’t stick around to see what happened with the messages, but the lady who asked me what I was doing gave me a smile – mission accomplished.

More photos of today can be found in the Day Eight: Magnetic set on the Flickr Photostream.



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Today’s project was small and simple – I put rubber ducks in the fountains of Civic.

There were a couple of reasons I went for such a low key project today – the last few days have been hectic, and I needed a little bit of a breather; and I wanted to experiement with setting up an entirely non-interactive event. This is interesting for me – I don’t really have any idea how to judge if it was a success or not. I haven’t had any feedback from people who actually saw the ducks, as I left them to their own devices and didn’t stay to monitor people’s reactions. Responses to the photographs have been quite positive, though.

There will be more projects along these lines over the next two weeks. They’re a nice break from the intensity of the bigger projects; and I enjoy the idea of making more discret works – cute little suprises for people who are paying attention to the world around them.

And I’d just like to note: the soap bubbles in the fountains were nothing to do with me – it was just a happy coindicence when I showed up this morning with my duckies.

Lots more photos up on today’s set on the Flickr.



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