For me, the ultimate power of art is its ability to frame the world in such a way that we, the viewers, see the world differently after viewing the art than we had before. Over the past days, I’ve had two wildly different experiences in San Francisco, both of which transformed spaces and transformed the way I saw those spaces and the surrounding world.
The Market Street Prototyping Festival took place for three days all along Market Street in San Francisco. As the name suggests, prototypes for potential public art pieces were erected in groupings, stretching from the waterfront all the way to Van Ness Avenue. The public was asked to experience the prototypes, then to vote via social media on the projects they thought should become permanent fixtures. Some of the work was great, much of it was conceptual and thoughtful, and a lot of it was far more fun than art. But what was exceptional was how these works changed behavior. On a busy street usually used more for getting from someplace to another, strangers stopped and interacted — with the pieces and with each other. A common place was created on this anonymous thoroughfare, transforming unappealing Market Street into lively, smiling, and vibrant Market Street.