Safety yellow industrial vinyl on sidewalks
Watch Your Step is a series of colored vinyl lettering that reads “watch your step.” The vinyl is placed around the city of Portland at crucial intersections of designated and emergent pedestrian paths. Photographic documentation of each location captures the project’s ephemera for permanent public viewing.
Systemic regulations are usually applied in response to emergent properties within an organization; they follow. The city is a self-regulating macrosystem and, as such, will respond to emergent pathways within and between its parts. The language of the city is as readable, digestible, user friendly as possible, but the volume is turned up high. A bright red stop sign alerts you at the end of the street, and it seems natural. The origin of that stop sign is hard to trace now. Did the stop sign precede the desire to halt at the intersection, or vice versa? While adopting the city’s own methodology, the artist can affect those emergent pathways, organically redrawn by members of the ecosystem. En masse, humans have the power to carve their own topography, and they do. Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is treacherous in its unruliness. With the cautionary message “watch your step” situated at the meeting place of the sidewalk and the footpath, the artist will variably affect the city’s pedestrian highways. These rifts in the directive structures of the system will stand as predictions for future development. Further, the text itself, when removed from context, is truly a warning for the actant. Take the artist’s direction with a grain of salt; she might not have your best interests in mind.