Open Field may have been heralded in with soft, intellectual discussion, but it wrapped up the first weekend of September with a bang: the purrs of cats and the Farmer’s Market flair of local jug bands. Open Field has eschewed definition, and yet its curious nature begs to be explained, debated, and defended. Here are six themes that defined Open Field for me and piqued my curiosity this summer:
Virtual knowledge/Shared spectacle
Artists-in-residence ROLU brought together artist-collaborators known to each other only through the internet into the space of the Walker; The Conversationalist’s Café drew passersby and strangers together in an attempt to bring people offline and face-to-face; and the Internet Cat Video Film Festival summoned 10,000 spectators to experience the beloved virtual in a tangible space.
Alternative means of trade
Like a tinker of yesteryear, Trading Tortoise set up camp on Open Field to barter goods from its travels across the country; artist Amanda Lovelee’s It’s Always Someone’s Birthday, So Let’s Celebrate! cheerfully enticed passersby to make birthday cards for an elderly home in exchange for birthday cake; Art Swap, once an ice shanty, mobilized art makers to trade artworks.
In its third year, Drawing Club did not cease to foster creations between unlikely parties and media; The Poet Is In opened the door for local poets to consult and collaborate; Doctor Sam asked us to think about and draw what makes things become “Better Together;”and The Big String Thing turned humans into fingers for life-size string figure formation.
Artists-in-residence Kitchen Lab designed a space of constant gastronomical exploration; Field of Reads made the local literary community pause and enjoy the written word for a Mass Read-In; The Swatch Team united fiber artists and the food community to ring in the autumn harvest.
Lost forms of communication
Post Office Love Letter encouraged people to think back to a time of social delicacies and epistolary exchange; Into the Blue – Cyanotype Photography took us back to the 19th century and the origins of photography; and Analog Tweet forced us to handwrite a telegram rather than post to Twitter.
Baby Picnic functioned as a business meet-up for the very, very young; Adrian Freeman’s Acoustic Campfire staged karaoke within the makeshift context of a fort; and Jonathan Zorn invited the public to clap with wooden boards with every synchronized step into the night.
Open Field has created countless ephemeral moments– and to use Amy Franceschini’s idea, a temporary commons– in which these six threads thrive. The Tool Shed’s hours may now be limited, but Open Field will continue to inspire curious moments of communal clarity and creation. It is, afterall, what we make together.