3 Degrees of Strangers

December 6, 2012 |

Bill Mackey (left) and participating students, Zola Zermeno, Myra Pixler, Claire Mirocha, Mariah Hoffman, Jessica Schulte, Nate Sema

Downtown Tucson is a hub of diversity where you’ll find all walks of life: business people, lawyers, executives, artists, students, travelers, the homeless and many others.  While the people you encounter Downtown may take up very little of your consciousness, there is an interesting juxtaposition of strangers and community that can either connect us to everyone or isolate us entirely. This is what sparked Strangers Anonymous and Associates (SAA) to create their 3 Degrees of Strangers: Connections in Downtown exhibit that will be taking place on Saturday, December 8th from 6:00PM-10:00PM at 245 E. Congress St. #171.

The exhibit, which is created by a group of honor students from the University of Arizona (SAA), was spawned from a class project that challenged the students to take a large concept, research it and turn it into an interactive exhibit that the public will participate in. “The students brought in concept ideas and one of the themes they came in with is the idea of strangers,” explains Bill Mackey, the instructor of the class. “We tried to define it together and in the context of Downtown one of the first things you think of for strangers is the homeless. It morphed from that more into the idea that Downtown is a specific place in Tucson where one can simultaneously be connected to the community and can also be anonymous.”

The attendees will play a strong role in the events of the evening, as different interactive pieces will require audience participation to illustrate our connectivity. Other multimedia pieces, including audio recordings, images and interviews, will illustrate how we perceive strangers and how they affect our daily lives and shape us as individuals.

“One of the pieces that is going to be in the exhibit is what the students are calling the ‘Connections Board’,” says Mackey. “When you come into the exhibit we will take a picture of you and give you the picture to put up on the wall along with an index card that says who you are and other basic facts about you. We’re going to have you put it on the wall and see if there are people up there who you know. Then we’re going to have you connect your photo to other people’s that you know with a different color string to signify your relationship. Then you’ll see the people you’re connected to and whom they’re connected to. We don’t know what the results will be, but that makes it pretty exciting for us.”

The twelve students that have planned and organized the exhibit were very adamant about the focus being on Downtown and have spent many hours collecting interviews, data and research for the event throughout the semester. “Downtown is a place where you typically find the most diversity in a city. It’s where the homeless people have as much of a place as high-powered lawyers,” says honors student Stephanie Brunson. “This project wouldn’t have been as interesting or in depth if we’d focused on a bubble of a neighborhood or a certain class of people, and Downtown is the opposite of that. Everyone impacts each other down there whether they know it or not.

“People are so linked into things like the Internet, Facebook and their phones and that can desensitize them to what’s surrounding them in the physical world,” says Brunson. “It’s easy for people to interact behind a computer screen, but we really looked into how we treat each other and coexist in the real world beyond that.”

The event will take place on Congress Street in the empty space next to Sparkroot and admission is free to the public. Snacks and beverages will be provided as well as a rare chance to see how connected Tucsonans really are to one another.

Visit www.facebook.com/events/113587635467739/ for more information.

Category: Arts, Community, DOWNTOWN / UNIVERSITY / 4TH AVE