a door cracks open

a door cracks open

As I set off with the badges I thought about this game. What did it feel like?

I knew that I wanted the badges to be discovered by people who had allowed their eyes to wander; who had slipped their focus, if only for an instant, into a place that claimed no purpose. I also knew that I wanted the badges to be perceived as treasure rather than trash; deliberate offerings, not detritus of the street.

This was my only guidance when I left the house that first afternoon. I also brought some small manila tags, vaguely thinking that I might inscribe them with a few words that were evocative of the moment and attach them to the badges.

Within the first few minutes I found that I was establishing guidelines about placement: no residential properties; no shopfront doors or windows. Which left me with public space in the strictest sense: benches, phone booths, other infrastructural odds and ends. Then another impulse: try to stay invisible. Let the badges bloom anonymously into place. Eventually these constraints pushed me off the main street and into the spaces behind.

It was quieter here, away from the quickening pace of peak hour. Exactly what I needed. I drifted with slack purpose, looking for the right kind of spots to leave the badges. Up on High Street this had begun to reveal things that were visibly invisible: grates, drainpipes, strange crumbling holes in walls. These revelations continued now, opening up a network of paint-spattered laneways that would have otherwise remained undiscovered. My boots crunched on dead leaves and broken glass; I felt like I was the only one in this world.

Twilight stole in, violet and electric, and as it deepened the synchronicities began to crackle. There were messages in everything: printed signs, graffiti, even the arrangement of litter in the gutters. As I turned the corner out of a laneway and onto a quiet street, the crescendo: a towering brick facade covered in the intricate lacework of dormant vines. It was stunning in the dying light. Adjacent was another brick warehouse, a scrawl of white painted across its face: Everything happens for a reason.

A very confusing thing had just happened in my life, that had been on my mind all evening. The graffiti gave me no answers, but still made me exhale with recognition. I stood there, eyes pricked with tears, as darkness fell. When the last light leaked away I turned and walked toward home.