When you look across a room and you see dozens of others dressed in black wearing bowler hats how can you not think of Magritte ?
When you wander the city streets in a seemingly existential manner, wearing the bowler hat, how can you not think of Beckett and Godot ?
When you and your companions line up and begin to walk, how can you not think of Monty Python and the Ministry for Silly Walks ?
Layers of images, layers of meaning, layers of understanding come to my mind. The physical act of walking is integral to thinking. It is only secondarily a performance, it is foremost an act of being human. - Tom Dowling
One thing that struck, and surprised me, about this experience was the somewhat adversarial relationship between the walkers and the community. Particularly while walking the stretch of Melrose between San Vicente and Fairfax, an area filled with high-end stores, restaurants and their customers, I found that passers-by were, for the large part, not amused or delighted but incredulous, even enraged, by the lack of explanation. A group of men sitting outside a cigar shop called me over, commanding my attention, demanding answers, which I happily denied them. In this atmosphere I developed a defiant attitude, the more they (mostly men) pushed for explanation, the more I enjoyed resisting them. Those I encountered in this area either averted their eyes, taking photos when they thought I wasn’t looking (why would I wear this if I didn’t expect to photographed?!) or confronted me rather angrily. They didn’t know how to understand what was happening outside of a structure of commodification and consumerism. Handing out business cards, typically intended for networking, that had no ‘useful’ information was in this context defiant: you don’t get to understand everything, the world doesn’t always make sense and I certainly don’t have to explain it to you.
I found this adversarial atmosphere dissipated as I moved north on Fairfax and headed west on Santa Monica Blvd. There, an area with both high end establishments but also thrift stores, non-profits, clinics, rehab facilities, counseling centers, sex shops, gay bars, as an epicenter of LGBT community, I was received differently. Those waiting at bus stops, the homeless individuals sitting on the sidewalks, those walking out of dispensaries and medical clinics, were amused and curious. People did not avert their eyes. - Googie Karass
From an outside cafe on Santa Monica Boulevard, “It’s like…a walking art gallery, or something, you know?”
Two Germans/Swiss/Austrians stopped me: I gave out cards to them both. “Oh, silent, right? Would you be silent if I pinched you?” And he DID! I tried to look disapproving and walked off.
A dog walker: “You’re doing real good work!”
Someone was collecting the cards: “Can I have one of yours? I’m trying to collect them all…” on Sunset Boulevard.
A couple of times: “Can I ask, what’s this all about?” - just responded with cards.
A couple of times: “There’s another one!”
I loved periodically coming across other walkers, crossing together, or across, or walking alongside for a little while, or behind…at the very end, there were four gathered, side by side, by the traffic lights, with a lot of people taking photos on their phones.
But I was really surprised that there weren’t more encounters, actually: so many people seemed to take no notice whatsoever! - Lydia Wilson
Another thing I did on my route was to use my images of the explosion in a City, and I stopped for a few minutes at every property that I knew that is slated for demolition on the Sunset Strip. Also on the Sunset Strip I stopped at the Viper Room at the place on the sidewalk where River Phoenix died, and watched traffic drive by for a few minutes. It was my way of saying a tragedy occurred here. - Donn Uyeno
I was struck by my mutability in relationship to the piece and the city. Another walker mentioned to me afterward that she had described her role as that of a "walking statue" to her young son. I found that, depending on where I was, I became everything from advertisement to punctuation to mannequin to doorman. There was a sense of endless possibility in the network of walkers, civilians, billboards, etc. I felt kinship with other signage. It was great. - Joseph Ocón
I felt a significant tonal shift between walking in the business district versus the residential areas. In general, the business district feels "public", whereas the residential areas feel like the extension of someone’s living space. I mentioned how I was more sensitive to that, wishing not to startle folks upon walking up behind them and such. Anyway, I had a very brief but lasting interaction in a residential street with a black lady, who upon passing me, looked at my board and said "that's amazing". She continued to walk away and we had no further interaction. At this point, I'm in my own head and not understanding why she said it. To be honest, I hadn't really thought about my boards much, and the "vow of silence" had me deep in thought, in a somewhat meditative state. Up until that point I was only the vehicle for the boards. It was then that I actually looked at my board and realized that I had a rather culturally poignant picture on my chest. There's plenty of interpretation and symbolism that can be extracted from that moment, but its essence was a very brief, powerful and pleasant moment, one of many on the walk. - Stephen Patchan
The most memorable encounter was when a tour bus pulled up to me and with a loud speaker the guide asked if I was part of an art gallery. I handed a passenger a stack of cards & stepped away. It was hilarious watching as the bus sped away with the tourists stretching their necks & hands out to reach for a card as they were being passed around. - Elvira Lavenant
I kept thinking about Joan Didion and what West Hollywood must have been like 40 years ago in comparison to what it's become today. - Chelsea Mosher
. . . It was truly wonderful to walk the beautiful boulevards of Beverly and Melrose, to see the inviting architecture of West Hollywood shopping, galleries, showrooms, and to be a different kind of pedestrian on these sidewalks. I was surprised to get more reactions from cars driving by (and stopping next to me to ask what I was doing, was I "advertising something"), than from pedestrians I mingled more closely with. My entire route was busy with pedestrian traffic, often in groups, but few people stopped to inquire, although they did sometimes stare and look surprised. - Nancy Perloff
In the park, I saw a group of elderly people pointing in disbelief at the walkers. I overheard one of the women confiding "There are a hundred of them! All around the city!"
I was struck by the way that the boards interacted with each other. At one point, two walkers were standing in front of a playground. Both of their images were benign and complimented one another. Then one of them turned around, revealing a violent image. This prompted the other to turn around and reveal the quote "Abandon Ship!" Then they parted ways. Very funny. - Sam Adams (Videographer)
. . . a lot of people ignored me or pretended not to see me. I was slightly disappointed not more people asked what I was up to, but I also enjoyed the solitude of it because I was protected by my costume and I could not speak. It was nice when I got to walk with a fellow walker even though I did not know them and we could not talk. It was fun to see a fellow walker across the street. The signs are striking yet also have a lot of visual competition. As far as interactions I had, a woman yelled out of her truck window, “is that for the TV show about animals?” (I had no animals on my sign). A man asked what was going on and when I handed him the card he exclaimed “Ahhh!” as if of course he knew what I was up to, but I am sure he was thrown back into confusion when he actually looked at the card. - Clare Haggerty
As I walked, I got to really observe West Hollywood in a way I had not been able to before . . . I passed through the bustling streets of Melrose Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, but also the quiet, more residential areas like North Harper Avenue. As I found a rhythm and pace for my walk, I became tuned into the sounds and colors of LA. I felt much more immersed in the place than I had before, despite the fact I was wearing a suit, bowler cap, and sandwich board. I enjoyed the solitude of it. - Elise Sokolowski
First, north on Robertson Blvd. crowded with on-lookers. I was about thirty feet behind another walker, and noticed a woman smiling at him. She approached me and asked, “What’s going on?” I stared into her eyes, put a card in her hand, and proceeded to walk. It would be another ten feet or so before I gave out another card. There was something very powerful about being the center of attention. And then when I reached San Vicente to go north, the people vanished. I was alone with my thoughts . . . Half way up the block as the sun hit my face - Eureka! It occurred to me that in some ways we were 100 Chauncey Gardeners, the main character from the novel and movie “Being There.” He was an uneducated simple man also dressed in a bowler’s hat who rarely said anything, but to the elite he befriended, his infrequent words were profound. I imagined that our sandwich boards were as simple as Chauncey’s vocabulary, and had the same impact on the people who dared to ask what was going on. They were our impressionable aristocracy . . . A man rolled down his car window and shouted, “What are you guys doing? Talk to me now. I want to know what’s going on.” I could only stare. We looked at each other for about twenty seconds and I felt as if I was in a western showdown. He continued to holler at me, but the traffic now moved. He had to drive on and I won the shootout. - Andrew Scharlatt
I always wondered what the Dadas felt like, and now I think I know. - MJ Pais
What struck me most during the walk was seeing other walkers and sometimes acknowledging each other in a very subtle way that people in the world might not be aware of. It reminded me very much of the scenes in the film Wings of Desire when angels would see each other and greet each other in passing while engaged in the world and they seemed to share a beautiful sense of unspoken understanding. - Joe Biel