The short story is I DID IT I got my Jello to the site and installed it.
I had a fantastic time yesterday at Smoke Farm.
The reward of watching people interacting with the Jello made all the sweat, late nights and crazy amount of work more than worthwhile. It was a joy.
A common interaction with someone who wandered into my grotto went something like this.
They would look around in bemusement as if on a strange kind of Easter egg hunt, finding the blue and green Jello molds in the grass. I'd ask them what they thought.
Then if they asked I'd tell them a bit more about it: That Jello comes from cows' hooves and this was a dairy farm and that I was putting the gelatin back down on the ground where the cows used to walk. I watched thoughtful looks come over their faces.
Ohhhhhh they'd say and nod.
If I felt like they might be open to hearing more I would mention that I'd chosen blue to represent water. Then I'd venture to point out the deeper layer of meaning about beef and water consumption and we'd talk about it together.
Some people really got into it.
But with others I honestly felt like a bit of a jerk ruining the fun of a goofy art experience with a deeper educational meaning.
There were moments when I couldn't believe I'd made a project that had to be explained in words, an idea formerly against my principles as an artist, and not only that but one with a political, ecological message.
Can't art just be art?
Yes it can and should.
But part of this venture has been a deliberate foray into conceptual art which in my mind is art that stands on two legs, one visual and one verbal. Not only that but it has been a deliberate exploration of political, ecological art.
The conceptual nature of the project is the reason I started this blog, so that I could share not only the technical and artistic process of making the piece but also the ideas behind it.
One or two people couldn't leave fast enough when I explained the underlying idea, almost as if I were pointing a finger at them personally about their eating habits, which was interesting in itself.
But most people seemed to appreciate being prompted to think a little further beyond simply the physical installation and pleased to be engaged about a deeper meaning and eager to hear a few facts.
It was fun sharing that gelatin melts at the body temperature of the cows it comes from. That's kind of creepy said one woman.
And that we use 2,000 gallons of water to raise one pound of beef. Some already knew. Others' eyes widened.
Everyone was curious about the Jello. When someone asked what was in it I enjoyed explaining that I'd worked for weeks to come up with a formula that would hold up outside. What's the formula? asked several people.
I would share that the ingredients included some that were plant-based but I decided not to divulge all of my hard-won scientific secrets. For all my deliberate transparency in this project some things about art need to remain mysterious...
Most gratifying was when someone actually thanked me for starting a conversation about beef and water. One bright-eyed young woman looked me in the eyes, high-fived me and said right on, I like what you did. She made my day.
In the end I must admit that the part I loved most was watching people interact with the Jello. The look and feel of it prompted a lot of "oooo's" and "eewwws"...it was fascinating.
Here's a sampling:
Oooooo did you touch it??
It feels SO WEIRD.
Oh my god it is totally not what I expected I thought it was ICE.
Do these glow in the dark?
Oo land jelly-fish!
Ohhhh you should have made it in the shape of a cow's hoof.
Hey it's next to the stream, I bet cows used to walk in here.
I didn't know there was BLUE Jello.
Can you eat it?
I wish there were like, tons of them.
Hey let's take a picture down real low and then photoshop us in!
It makes me feel like a kid! Can I poke it?
I want to pick that whole thing up and throw it against a tree.
How long will it take to melt?
It looks like some kind of fungus.
....And for the win....
Did you grow these here?