I seem to find projects for myself that are sufficiently unusual or unexpected, yet benign in their overall goals that I get into “trouble.” By “trouble” I mean that people have no real frame of reference to put the project into their miniscule, lump-of-coal-sized brain.
I’ll give you an example. A couple of years ago I got it in my head to make an exceptionally tall, telescopic pole on top of which I put a couple of 180 degree video cameras.
I called it An Apparatus to Capture Other Points of View. I intended to tote it around New York City. Which I did. I had a couple of locations I wanted to take it. One was Times Square. Another was the (then new) Highline Park.
I figured — Time Square? I have a reasonable chance of being hassled by the police, which I was. But they just said not to block traffic and don’t hang out too long. I mean — Times Square! High-security and all that. I should have *no problem at the Highline Park.
Alas, an informal park minder came over and told me I couldn’t film using a long pole. He got me on the phone with some lady somewhere he said the same thing. Even after explaining the benign creative impulses of the project..well, you just can’t. They think about filming permits and that sort of thing. Here I am — a guy in a costume with a 20 foot telescopic pole.
I point to that example of a project that’s definitely weird and unexpected and that doesn’t fall into the usual pile of things that the normal, human world in which the tenders of municipal skate parks lives who clearly cannot comprehend anything more complicated than an episode of American Idol. Project like those in which some guy (me) decides that he’s going to take a year (2011) spending his own time and money documenting girl skateboarders to hopefully challenge the conventions of a male dominated sport and also challenge his own creativity and have fun at the same time.
This is what happened yesterday. A mindless public servant ambles by while Hunter Long and I are trying to get a shot or two in and says I can’t shoot in the Culver City Skate Park. Never mind I’ve shot there a dozen times in the past. Never mind Hunter and I are both working together. Never mind the project we’re doing — this one here — is in support of skateboarding, the very thing that is going on in the park and that Culver City is encouraging for the good of humankind.
In order to take a photograph, I’d need to go somewhere and get something and then have that something endorsed by someone else and then I could shoot. Which clearly means someone in Culver City wants to tax an independent-y sorta project that’s really designed with only positive and no financial intents. Like — oh, forget it. I don’t want to get into the money I’ve happily spent on travel, eating, gear, &c. to produce this. I have no expectation of this project coming back to me except in someone feeling happy, or encouraged, or aspiring to take up the sport themselves.
Mood? Skeptical about the capacity of civil servants to think beyond the tip of their nose.