I've been installing questions for people to answer at various events and exhibitions since 2005. This started as a way for me to engage audiences, but also to learn something about my art audiences. Over the years there have been many answers that have made me laugh, think, feel, some have even caught me off-guard or been offensive. However in all, the answers have provided me with a rich understanding of art audiences and their connection to topics that matter to me.
The questions are always posed in the form of an unfinished statement, for example, "The Last Thing I Found Was..." In this case the statement was installed inside of an exhibition that focused on found materials, and was my way of engaging the audience with my process of making art.
From my experiences with these pieces I've been able to pull some valuable thoughts together. Children are far more comfortable writing answers and often don't even think about their answers until they've finished writing. Adults tend to be apprehensive, probably because of being more self-conscious of being on display. As time goes by, adults tend to open up and interact with the pieces as they see others doing the same. Artists are the worst because they tend to spend eons thinking of the absolute most perfect answer that will represent who they are, most likely focused on how their words will be frozen for eternity and wanting to be appropriately represented in that context.
Some questions such as "If I Found $200 I Would..." engage the audience in a slightly different way. These statements aren't so much about reflecting on past experiences (facts) as much as envisioning the future, which results with people talking more among themselves and ultimately engaging with the rest of the event in a like-minded way. Ultimately I don't prefer either of these approaches over the other, as long as the process stimulates people as participants.
With the last two installations I've tried using found materials (windows) to write on. The end result is a piece of art that can be purchased or kept by me (!). I'm very intrigued with the prospect of having a slew of these pieces and one day looking back at peoples answers. These are and will be thoughts frozen in time and place, something that I think every piece of art should aim to be.
Here are some samples, more can be found on Flickr.