Today I watched a group of young tourists walk down a sidewalk in Millennium Park, carrying their matching yellow Forever 21 bags and chatting with each other. Every once in a while, one of them would glance up and quickly take a picture of one of Yvonne Domenge’s three “Interconnected” sculptures, sometimes just using one hand, not even stopping to focus. Paces barely slowed, conversations continued, most of the group didn’t even notice.
Was the act of taking the photos in such a way better than not noticing the sculptures at all? Will they actually see the sculptures later, when they look back on their pictures – the record of their trip to Chicago? For that matter, will they remember the conversations they were having as they passed by?
Compare that to a family who used their camera to fully explore one of the sculptures in depth – taking photos in, around, and through it, framing their faces, looking for negative space and unique perspectives. I had been writing under a tree near the walkway for a while, but this family made me realize that I hadn’t truly seen the sculptures myself. They made me really look. Their act of exploration raised my curiosity.
Suddenly I was up and exploring on my own – framing, exploring, discovering things I hadn’t noticed from sitting 20 feet away.
My lesson for today: A reminder that getting involved often reveals more then mere observation (or speculation) ever can. Sometimes just the act of engaging changes our perspective on the world – and perhaps, as others observe our actions, we shift their perspectives as well. Or at least make them darn curious about what we’re seeing.