Running Thoughts

*Created to listen with headphones

How can a level of connectivity be created in social spaces in Chicago, a densely populated metropolitan city? Running Thoughts is an investigation of this question using artistic strategies to engage bystanders on public transportation. On the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) trains I experimented with different methods to capture and collect strangers’ internal and external thoughts. For one hundred & twelve days I rode three to four hours weekly on all the train lines to engage with commuters. My investigation culminates as an interdisciplinary art project in which commuters answer the question, “Why are you going?”. I transformed the material, which includes recordings, interviews, conversations and written surveys, into a layered soundscape, motion graphic projectiong and a handmade book. Running Thoughts offers an insight into the public and private thoughts of Chicago commuters.

When riding public transportation you are in a small public space, shoulder-to-shoulder, with strangers. Silence is the norm, with small gestures of acknowledgement or avoidance, while conversation and meaningful interaction is the exception. However, beneath these spaces between individuals there is a primordial soup of humanness. We are the most complex creatures on earth. Each of us has our own problems, worries, triumphs, annoyances, jokes and insights that, ultimately, are similar. If I can access these similarities, I can bring them to a tangible form—and perhaps connect the randomness of our passing—those brief moments when we inhabit the same physical space and connect in mental space. Like a fish nibbling on a line, I want to hook it, pull it above the surface, admire it, let its silver scales shine in the sunlight, and throw it back into the darkness, hoping that some of the light remains, forming a lasting glimpse of connection between all of us. I want to increase awareness, shedding light on our passing thoughts—exposing the spark of life behind our eyes. Ultimately, Running Thoughts reveals a certain shared aspect of humanity and opens a window into our traveling companions’ existence.