There is a very interesting experiment going on in Portland, OR. It is called The Public Isolation Project. From the http://www.publicisolationproject.com/ website: “The Public Isolation Project consists of two symbiotic and simultaneous art pieces–Joshua Jay Elliott’s An Examinable Life and Cristin Norine’s The Future of Socializing. An analog analogy of the contemporary experience of living in the Internet age, Cristin Norine is spending one month living within the confines of the bSIDE6 Gallery—in total view from the gallery’s windows. Her isolation is alleviated solely by digital interactions with the outside world. Viewers of the piece will reflect on their own expanded accessibility that technology has brought them.”
To understand some of the motivations behind the effort, this excerpt from Cristin’s blog gives some of the back story.
“I haven’t spoken much about how this project came about so I thought I would explain a little. I was driving home from a grad school recruiting event while talking to Josh. I was explaining what concepts I wanted to focus my portfolio on and he was telling me how he was bummed that his current project fell through. Originally, Josh was going to have a person living in the space that would try and create the smallest carbon footprint possible, but the guy backed out. It was on that phone call that I said, “Put me in the box.” During the call we both realized that our concepts worked well together and it could be a great project.”
I find all of this fascinating; I urge you to follow the experiment that will go on for the next 20 days. Cristin’s blog posts from days 1 through 11 will quickly bring you up to date. The reason for my fascination is that I see a parallel between my situation; that of losing my wife Lynn 202 days ago, and Cristin’s situation. I too am essentially isolated because I no longer have my best friend, with whom I spend 24 hours a day with, for 47 years (less time I spent at work). We finished each other’s sentences for one another, had the same thoughts at the same time, and our walking through life was in complete synchronicity. We could, and did, communicate with our eyes – and nothing else. Lastly, we were probably the most tactile couple that you know; we shared dozens of kisses per day, we hugged constantly, and when we walked anywhere, Lynn’s hand was in mine. Emblematic of our closeness was the ink drawing called “The Promise”, (by Robert Sexton) which I bought many years ago, and now hangs in my room (and always will). Our joke was that no matter which of us passed away, we would revisit the one who lived – and move the picture on the living wall. I’m waiting for Lynn’s spirit to move the picture, and I’m still hopeful.
Living with my son Erik is wonderful; I am comfortable, safe, have all of my needs met, and am blessed with the complete love and admiration that only a Son can provide. Erik has his own life to live, has a wonderful friend of his own to spend time with, and works outrageous hours. He is doing exactly what he should be doing!
Lynn and I chose to leave our home in Cuyahoga Falls to seek adventure and new experiences. We left 35 years of friends behind and feel guilty to this day about any pain that we caused by leaving. After my assignment was completed, we chose to leave Germany where many more friends reside. Circumstances conspired to move us out of Rotonda West, again, where many other friends live. Here in Homosassa, other than Erik and his friend, I have no friends. My remote friends have their own lives to live, and good old Cliff is not top of mind for them. I have always been blessed with close friends and I am lost without them!
I am in a similar type of isolation; my window to the world is electronic, ranging from television to my iPhone. I watch the golfers on the first green of the Southern Wood Golf Club, enjoy themselves. They are but 60 yards from me but might as well be on TV, for all they do for me. I am not made of money and must live within my means, made more difficult by the Views from Sandhausen project. I reached out and have been hired by suite101, as a freelance writer. I’m finding that, as much as I hate it, it doesn’t look I will ever be able to find an appropriate job again. My means are limited which restricts my ability to get out and do things. This is very different from our previous lives – where we were affluent and could do what we wanted, when we wanted.
Cristin can look out her window in Portland; can minimally interact with those on the street. She, like I, miss the warm hugs, the occasional kisses, and the ability to touch another human. So, I will continue to follow her project and learn any of the lessons that she learns. Cristin has the promise of her isolation ending in three weeks. I, on the other hand, can only hope and pray that I will find another with whom I can share that most important, but underappreciated quality – Touch.