Monday, March 17, 2014

If You Aren't Looking You Won't See

Jeff Zischke, Water Striders, being installed for Canal Convergence this weekend (more info in notes below*)

On my Monday morning commute, I observed green water striders on the Arizona Canal. Large ones, five feet tall, twelve feet long, at least. If I drove a car to work rather than riding my bicycle along the canal, I wouldn't have been here, wouldn't have been looking here, would have overlooked these.

Paralleling my experience of four years ago when I rode my bike to work in the aftermath of a wicked storm rather than taking the car**, and happened to see something singular and unexpected occurring with art floating in this same canal by Fausto Fernandez, I had to be here to see these suddenly appear where they had not been on Friday; I had to be looking at what was happening around me to notice.

The water bugs raised questions in my head

"He was in the right place at the right time." That might be a microscopic statement of miniscule import, or, alternatively, it might refer to some monumental, life-changing circumstances. A friend was telling me how she was stopping by a restroom while on vacation at some remote, out-of-the-way place, and just at the moment she entered, a woman exited, stopped in her tracks, and said her name. It was a friend from college days, twenty years ago, who just happened to be there. 

We've all had a few of those seemingly amazing experiences, but what I said next blew her mind a little bit. I said, "Wow, fifteen seconds later, and you would have totally missed seeing her. It makes me wonder how many similar encounters we miss every day by a few seconds, or just because we're not even looking at that particular moment, or because of some seemingly trivial decision we just happened to not be in that particular place when they were."

Pausing here on the morning bike ride commute, contemplating the singular appearance of the large green water striders, I asked myself some relevant questions:

Where are you? Are you in the usual place?
When are you there? The same time as always?
Are you paying attention? 
Are you looking around with open eyes and attentive ears?
What do you see? What do  you hear?
What do you feel?
What do you smell? 
What's going on below your feet and above your head?
What's there? Same things as always, or something new?
Who's there? Who are they? What do you read in them? Do you have a connection with them already that you should reestablish? Or do the striders provide a context for a new connection?
What's the relationship of all these to the place where you are?
What's the relationship of all these to the moment you are in?

Is this the right place?

Is this the right time?

If it is, would you be mindful of that?

I read in the description of the striders that they will light up at night, and allow viewers to manipulate their colors with touch screens. I look forward to trying that, to gauge their reactions, to fill my retina with their pulsating / undulating / shifting colors. When I do, though, I'll be whispering to myself the questions above. And perhaps after the asking, stand and focus on my own breath a moment, to feel time and place unfolding.

Hyper-there. Hyper-now. Unshielded in the night. Because if you aren't looking you won't see.

Of course, I certainly want to be here, at night, to see them light up at night, to touch their screens

More info/notes:

*More about Water Striders from the SPA site, in case they don't keep this description up:
"For the past year, local artist and designer Jeff Zischke has been planning and prototyping Water Striders, a series of large, glowing and color-changing water strider bugs to float in the canal for Canal Convergence | Spring Equinox. During Canal Convergence event nights only, viewers have the opportunity to change the multi-colored water striders using touch screens located at an interaction station on the south canal bank.

A total of 8 twelve-foot long and five-foot tall water strider sculptures are scattered across the surface of the Arizona Canal at the Scottsdale Waterfront from Soleri Bridge and Plaza to the Marshall Way bridge. Come see these sculptures light up the canal every evening through May, with touch-screen interaction available during Canal Convergence nights only."

 **Perhaps the last time that was even a choice I might have made, haven't driven to work since.



Please feel free to comment here, almost anything goes, except for obvious spam or blatantly illegal or objectionable material. Spammers may be subject to public ridicule, scorn, or outright shaming, and the companies represented in spam shall earn disrepute and ire for each occurrence.