“But slowly the phosphorescence of the springlike snow became dulled: it vanished then, giving way to a thick black darkness preceding dawn. Some of us fell asleep in the warm snow, others went groping in the dark for the doors of their houses and walked blindly into the sleep of their parents and brothers, into a continuation of deep snoring . . . . ” –Bruno Schulz in the short story “Cinnamon Shops” (published in The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories, Penguin 2008)

This experiment simply focused on placing quotes from fiction into the environment. In this particular version, the correlation between quote and situation is quite direct. It labels the snow as warm, according to Schulz’s quote above. Another direct correlation is that Schulz grew up in Ukraine, which was once part of Poland. In this picture, “warm” is written in the snow covering the park that rings Krakow’s old town.

Does painting the environment with a quote make the reader’s experience of an author’s idea more immediate?

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Writers Bruno Schulz and Thomas Pynchon both muse about the life of inanimate objects in their works of fiction (see “Treatise on Tailors’ Dummies” in The Street of Crocodiles by Schulz and V by Pynchon). This investigation tries to carry such anthropomorphic notions from the book realm into the real world, by using labels to bestow alternative meanings on objects.

Can these labels help change our perceptions of objects? Can they make everyday life a richer place for imagination? Or do they inhibit imagination?

Taking this mini-project further might involve making kits full of labels that people can stick onto whatever objects they choose. There must be other ways to push it as well…?

Jabberwocky Prototype, copyright Brett Ascarelli 2010

This prototype integrates Lewis Carroll’s famous poem with instructions for a person to follow while reading. The instructions are designed to twist the reader’s everyday life into a theater of unusual experience and performance. The result:

Milk pouring over a knife

Beware the results of actionotation!

For more information on this idea of “actionotation”, please see my master’s thesis, “Doing Between the Lines: Writing Play” at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design.

It turns out that God actually answers them.

New Year's Day 2010 at the Western Wall, copyright Brett Ascarelli

But when all the nooks and crannies in the Western Wall are full, the answers turn up near another of the world’s holiest stones–that which lies near Krakow’s Wawel Castle.

Krakow's Wawel Castle purportedly houses one of the world's holiest stones

Notes found in the wall near Wawel Castle

Don’t delay. Make your pilgrimage plans now.