Note: This is an article that had been originally published in the TenByTen (www.tenbyten.net) magazine. Unfortunately, the magazine ceased to exist some years ago. I loved the article when I read it first. I have later tried to locate it to no avail. After some digging I found it buried in the web.archive.org. I don’t own the copyright to this article, so feel free to contact me in case you do and don’t agree with me publishing it.
Simple Adventures for Everyday Living
by Joseph del Pesco
These ideas were initially inspired by Situationist International texts. The “scripts” below, which include many suggested by friends as part of a work in progress, began as simple adventures you could do by yourself without spending any money; later some turned more toward public interventions, while others became less literal and more performance-oriented. Even if they were initially intended for someone to “directly live” an experience, in response to Guy Debord’s idea that “everything that [is] directly lived has moved away into a representation,” some create a double negative: when enacted, a spectacle is realized.
Get a group of friends together, three or four with cameras and two or three with pads of paper. Go up to a stranger. Start shooting photos and ask for an autograph.
Along the Lines
Wear a pinstripe suit to work. In the middle of the day, cut along each line with a pair of sharp scissors.
Hang a black-light poster in the bathroom of a gas station. Install a black-light bulb.
Forge a copy of an artwork in your house and hang it up in the same frame in the same place. See if anyone notices.
Use bright orange traffic cones to block off an entire block and lay down carpet. Set up a living room and watch movies. Invite your neighbors.
Street Sign Chalkboard
Buy instant-chalkboard spray paint and cover a (non-traffic-related) street sign for use by the local community. Hang bits of chalk from strings.
Hide something in the house and leave a treasure map on the refrigerator.
Flowers to Strangers
Go through the dumpster of a local flower shop, pull out the flowers that still look okay, and give them to strangers on the street.
Record yourself singing in the shower and send it to a friend.
Stop watching a movie in a theater halfway through. Go home and watch the second half on video.
Rearrange letters on a marquee sign in the middle of the night.
Choose a street-level space in the city to make your own. Clean, decorate, and throw a party.
Sew a fabric covering for a local park bench. Consider padding it like an old toaster cozy.
Sing into the intercoms of apartment buildings.
The Sound of Mail
Send a sound-activated tape recorder in a box to a friend who lives across the country.
Sneak into a friend’s house and fold laundry or do the dishes.
Trade furniture with your neighbors for one month.
Jumper Cable Circuit
Connect the two sides of a train track near a road to turn on the blinking lights and bells.
Using spray cans of (supposedly beneficial) Sap and stencils, create marks on the sides of tree trunks.
Make swings out of wood boards and thick rope. Go to a local park and hang them from every tree that has an appropriate branch.
Call a random number from a payphone and ask the person who answers for some practical piece of information: “Do you know how long it takes to cook muffins?” or “How do I get to ______ from downtown?”
Anonymous Leg Up
Send unsigned letters to a younger person you know giving them
information that will save them trouble in the future.
Music for Telemarketers
Learn to play a song using the number keys on the telephone. When a telephone solicitor calls, play it for them.
Pretending to Pretend
Go to a party where you don’t know anyone and pretend to be someone else. Try it on a plane.
Rent a high-powered spotlight. Find a good location up high, looking down on a busy city street in the late afternoon, and pick someone out of the crowd.
Draw messages on the mirrors of a public bathroom with dry erase marker.
During conversations, stand closer than usual.
Write one line of a multi-line poem in chalk on each street corner in a 4 or 5 block radius.
Junk Mail Echoes
Do a drawing on a postcard-sized piece of junk mail and send it back.
Write on Post-It Notes and stick them up around your house or town.
Eat in Slow Motion. See if this is easier while dining alone.
Put the day’s clothes over the clothes you woke up wearing.
Lines into History
Send a note to all the people you love but have lost contact with.
Pace circles in a public square with a blank picket sign.
Drive to your local airport. Park in line with a runway, under arriving or departing flights.
Photo Booth Put-On
Gather a bag of props and disguises. Bring plenty of single bills.
Write notes on sheets of paper. Toss them off skyscrapers.
Drive (or bus) aimlessly in any direction until you’re thoroughly lost. Then work your way back, taking photos to document your adventure.
Turn the lights off and the water on. Leave a small candle nearby to help you find the switch afterwards.
First Kiss Again
Think about where you were when your first kiss happened.
Make signs, t-shirts, posters, and bumper stickers that say, simply, “Yes.”