I’m somewhat obsessed with an article I found in the Nicollet Mall Collection, “Everybody’s Doing It: The Mall Jaywalk.” I love the specificity of this gesture and its role as an instance where individuals subvert the intended use of the space. I’ve been wondering how jaywalking could serve as a guiding principal for research, not unlike the way I discuss de Certeau in my initial introduction to this residency. How can jaywalking be a guiding principal for a research methodology? How can thinking about improvisational gestures shift my approach to research, to my definition of the archive?
Again, in the name of research, I took a walk on Nicollet Mall on a rainy October 15 at rush hour with my friends Naomi Crocker and Leia Wambach. We noticed these information kiosks that list upcoming events and suggest ways to “Enjoy Nicollet,” featuring the hashtag #onnicollet. As I scroll through #onnicollet on Instagram, I see it as an archive hiding in plain sight, one that is decidedly relational and spatial in nature. This hashtag seems to be part of a bigger branding plan on the part of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID), and is used consistently by them help promote events and other happenings as part of promoting the mall as a pleasant place to be (more on the DID’s mission here).
Photo courtesy of Mpls Downtown Improvement District.
The hashtag is used by accounts other than that of the DID though, so #onnicollet provides a much more varied archive of people using it for their own purposes. This is the case with businesses on/proximate to the mall who combine their personal hashtags with #onnicollet to increase traffic to their accounts. While we don’t know the unique context and motive behind each of these images, the attached hashtag also allows institutions, businesses, and individuals to be part of a polyphonic archive—one that can also belong to other archives simultaneously when used with additional hashtags. Being #onnicollet indicates a spatial experience on Nicollet Mall, as well as a digital placement within this set of metadata where users seek to combine hashtags to divert viewer attention for whatever other purposes they desire.
On October 15 I snagged a pic of my boot stepping on a portion of a stone walk with a multi-tone abstract design, and partook in the hashtag when I made a post later that evening. My motive was to simply insert myself (plus Naomi and Leia) into this ongoing collaborative archive, alongside other people’s various motives and contexts which remain unknown.