a photographic essay of thoughtfulness responses to our environment
What is a thoughtfulness act?
Inspired by Jane Fulton and her book Thoughtless Acts, this can be defined as an exercise in seeing rather than looking at the different types of interactions we engage in with our surroundings.
Where did I look?
I knew I wanted to conduct my observation in an open environment, so I decided to explore my neighborhood. I live in Downtown East Austin, a high-trafficked area surrounded by bars and many retail spaces where everyone walks from place to place. I thought it was an excellent opportunity to explore how people blended in and reacted to the environment without imposing.
What did I find?
To begin, I tried following the same structure Jane Fulton Suri had on her book to group my own observations;
Based on these findings, I created some themes;
- Flat surfaces
- Because it fits
- Responding to spaces
Affordances on flat surfaces
It’s surprising the many uses flat surfaces have; they can go from a table to a bed in a public space if that’s what you need at that moment. It’s like a break from gravity for objects and humans.
Because it fits
Everything is made of geometrical figures that form shapes, and as we were taught since we were babies using that red and yellow blocks shape sorter toy, every shape fits into another similar body.
Responding to spaces
Every action has a reaction, and sometimes people tend to react to their environment even when it’s not intentionally aware.
This exercise made me understand how similar we are from one another and how many of these thoughtfulness acts we do every day without noticing. I enjoyed the process of observing my surroundings more carefully and building new behaviors around them — this is an excellent opportunity to develop a new habit of being aware of how significant our everyday behavior can be.