Sydney Fort BFA Communication Design Thesis Spring 2017
In Visible Spaces
In a time defined by a fast pace and endless to-do lists, mindfulness and awareness of others are ideas often dismissed as trivial and not worth entertaining. However, there is an underlying desire to sift through our own thoughts and make them known to others, despite our ever-present digital devices which provide endless distraction. Looking to disrupt this distraction and bring the desire for introspection and expression to the surface, I began approaching people in one of the most routine parts of their day—on public buses. I presented individuals with an opportunity to share their thoughts anonymously and to be heard through small bus journals. These books, empty except for a simple opening prompt and equipped with a pen, were hung by small hooks on the seat backs in front of riders so they can easily find and interact with them.
My book, In Visible Spaces, captures the thoughts of ordinary people going about their daily lives, people you might have sat next to everyday and yet never spoken to. It is a collection of written responses and reflections providing a glimpse into the lives of those around you that are seen daily, yet too often go unnoticed. The book consists of two parts that alternate. The first is scanned journal responses of bus riders that I collected along with some of my own drawings, photos, and lettering that was created in response to that specific entry. These spreads are signified by yellow bars along the outer edges of the pages. The other part of the book acts as my own form of journaling that was done throughout the process, both done while I myself was waiting on buses and between sorting through what was collected on the bus.
What I want to touch on is teaching people to empathize, which is something sorely needed now. The areas in which we as a people are coming against each other are almost always stemming from a lack of understanding and compassion for the other person or people. People want to be heard, but people should also want to listen. The value of hearing another person out needs to be seen and that everyone has a story and that that story matters. Through this project I have been able to see glimpses of the lives of people who surround me on a daily basis, but that I never thought to interact with. There is a richness to the mundane now knowing that just because someone is quietly keeping to themselves that it doesn’t mean that they don’t have something valuable to say. I have also realized that to anyone else I am that stranger on a bus, and that these practices of mindfulness and slowing down are incredibly important.