wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing
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London’s One & Other project has ended after 100 days and 2400 plinthers atop the empty 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Actually, it was 2401, as one person could not bear the height, so left early and was replaced by a volunteer, to ensure the plinth was never unoccupied throughout the 100 days.
The One & Other 4th Plinth project, brought about by Anthony Gormley (sculptor of, among other things, the Angel Of The North) ended at 9am this morning (14 Oct 2009). I feel slightly bereft, as I found it fascinating and invested many hours in it.
Gormley at 4th Plinth
I was often entertained, often moved, often bored and sometimes amused by the people who were on the plinth. On the social networking site Twitter, people used the hashtag #oneandother when chatting (tweeting) about the plinth and quite a number of us got to know each other a little through our regular visits, comments and chats there. It seems even Gormley was aware of the Twitter hashtag and us all talking about it there. Someone coined the name Twecklers for those of us who were regulars there and the name stuck. It was even reported on some news channels and in newspapers, to our amusement and surprise. Despite the name being a contraction of Twitter heckler, the tweeting twecklers were all extremely nice and frequently amusing people, all loving the project and much more often giving encouragement and praise than heckling, though opinions were not held back. I have now learned that I posted 3,213 #oneandother tweets during the 100 days of the project.
One tweckler, @alexlebrit, even made a cut-out of the plinth, which many of us printed out and made into our own little plinth model; we’re all kids at heart.
On twitter, the staff in the One & Other cabin in Trafalgar Square, working the cameras that filmed the plinth and keeping the web video feed running, also joined us in chat, using the #oneandother hashtag and the Twitter ID @Oneandotherweb. They were informative, helpful, clever and very amusing. Being so obliging, they even tried to capture specific shots, like zooming in on some detail, when requested by anyone on Twitter. They were very much themselves, with no tiresome professional stand-offishness or forced politeness. They could be very mischievous, both on Twitter and on the plinth, and most of them did have to go on the plinth, to ensure it never had an empty hour when a plinther had failed to turned up with no notice and there was no one in the square they could grab. Their plinth hours, therefore, tended to be in the wee small hours.
4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square
Quite a number of Twecklers, many of whom had also been plinthers, gathered in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday evening (13 Oct) and stayed there until some time after the last plinther was lowered from the plinth the following morning, when the safety net was then ceremonially cut by One & Other staff. They went prepared with mobiles, cameras, soup and a laptop, so managed to communicate, via Twitter and Skype, with those of us who were unable to join them in London. They were there to represent us all. I suspect we may still all meet up on Twitter, using the same hashtag, for some time to come. There are now also a couple of facebook groups dedicated to the 4th Plinth project. There were 2400 plinthers and we each only managed to watch a small number of those live, so, while the archive footage is still available online at Plinther Video Archives, we will try to check out more, particularly those each recommends, and we will continue to discuss them. The British Library is now archiving all 2400 hours of archives.
There were interesting side effects too; the project was the last straw in one plinther’s marriage, which has now ended, whereas another plinther has become romantically involved with one of the droids (O&O staff).
Twitter statistics for #oneanother this week
My daughter applied for a place on the plinth and was very disappointed not to be one of the lucky ones selected. Just in case, before knowing she hadn’t been selected, she had got her costume, planned her hour, chosen all the music and rehearsed over and over to check her idea worked & the timing was right to fill the hour. She won’t have been the only hopeful to do so. I wonder how many people did that and how many preparation hours were put in by people who didn’t even get on the plinth. It makes me realise that way more effort was put into the plinth project than anyone will ever know.
Thirty minutes before what I thought was the final deadline for applying, midnight on 31 August, I found myself applying, even though, up until that moment, I had no intention of doing so. It was a panic reaction on realising that the chance of being part of it was about to end. I didn’t get a place either and felt both disappointment and relief. The only thing I reckon I could have done up there was to take a mannequin and dress it in wafuku, to show how a woman’s kimono ensemble is put on and how time consuming it is, while talking about why I am so fond of kimonos, how they are made, how they are dying out in Japan, the amazing Japanese textile art on them etc. I may have been able to dress the mannequin in two different outfits if I used pre shaped obis and didn’t have to take the time to tie those. I would also have explained all the steps of putting one on and the Japanese names of the numerous items required for the outfit. I’m not sure how fascinating that would have been for anyone watching, though, but it would have been informative and resulted in something visually pleasing, as a traditional kimono and obi outfit can be very beautiful.
Kevin takes Wafuku to the Plinth
He was a very personable man and engaged the crowds nicely. He chose to use his time to teach a few words of Japanese because, coincidentally, he had lived in Japan for a little while, to also talk about his wife, whom he recently married, and of his love for her and, with the aid of a giant biscuit, to campaign for the return of Abbey Crunch, a favourite biscuit of his that is no longer in production. He was touching and amusing. My sister spoke to his wife in Trafalgar Square, who told her that she is the outgoing one and her husband, on the plinth, is the shy one. It’s interesting how the plinth has seemed appealing to so many introverts. They are willing to overcome painful shyness because of the desire to be part of such an unusual and interesting project.
Although I was not on the plinth, I do have a few mementos of it; a poster from Thurtinkle, an excellent gnome puppet who told stories on the plinth and held a competition there too, which is how I won the poster, and a One and Other postcard someone sent me.
Another memento actually came from Kathrin Nicholson of Edinburgh (I have permission to include her name, who was on the 4th plinth in July. She said she’d noticed that I was on Twitter sometimes and I seemed to be a big fan of the plinth. I mentioned to her that I had a few mementos and she did the kindest thing; she sent me her official, plinther’s One & Other tee shirt, which were given by One & Other to each person who went on the plinth. I was so pleased and so very touched. What a wonderfully thoughtful and generous thing to do.
My Official One & Other tee shirt, sent to me as a surprise gift by a most generous and thoughtful plinther
Below you can see Kathrin on the plinth, laid back and enjoying a cuppa on a bright Sunday morning, as church bells sound, on 12 July at 9am.
Someone who went on the plinth created an amazing panoramic view of Trafalgar Square. No idea how they did it, especially the view from above. You can pan round, up and down and zoom in and out. It’s most impressive but you might make yourself dizzy if you can’t resist spinning round.
Holly, from One & Other, created a Plinther Timeline, showing the stages many people on the plinth went through. It is most amusing and quite accurate.
I have enjoyed many and no doubt missed many others I would really enjoy watching. Ones mentioned in a previous blog post are still favourites, like John_Badger, the art teacher, and LilacBonzai but I think my absolute favourite was one from just three days before the end of the project, on 11 October at 5am. The plinther had the name of Nige. His picture (you can see it on the corner of the distant night shot of the plinth, below) and his About Me on the One & Other site led me to believe he might spend the whole time on the plinth on his mobile phone or, at best, have predictable music blasting as he passed occasional comments to any rare passer by. There was nothing that made me feel I must watch him and I only saw it because I happened to be watching the plinth through the night again on the day he came on. He really took me by surprise. The beautiful images of his hour, the haunting music he played and the clear but silent message stay with me. I have watched his hour three times now and will no doubt watch it again, though I don’t make a habit of watching the archive hours more than once.
Nige – Unexpected and Sublime
Nige 11 October, 5am
Beautiful from a distance too
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There’s no denying that when I watched the Sky Arts Final Highlights video of the plinth, I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes.
It’s been an interesting display of the people of the UK, of how varied they are but also of how many think alike. It has shown how caring they can be, how eccentric, entertaining, willingly vulnerable and sometimes simply how dull they can be. We don’t usually get to see the big mix of people, ranging from dull to eccentric, from dysphoric to euphoric, yet nonetheless ordinary people singled out and raised up so we can focus so clearly on them. I thoroughly enjoyed it and, although I think repeating it would be wrong, as it would dilute it, I will really miss it. Art or not, I am very glad Gormley brought it about.
Below you will find some I enjoyed. Click the name links to go to their plinth hour videos.
Tim Cello Jones & Mechanical Wings
timcellojones To see the mechanical wings moving, go to 5min 53 sec on his archive. His wings are lovely and ingenious.
lilacbonzai Burlesque, costumes, poise & humour. I really enjoyed this one (warning, brief spell of nudity). The music was also very beautiful. **NOTE** ignore the text on the screen, move slider a minute or two forward and the video will play.
johnbadger An art teacher who gave an art lesson on the plinth. He reminded me I love art and should take to visiting galleries again and he made me laugh.
Haydon the Womble
Haydon-the-Womble The official mascot for AFC Wimbledon. I really don’t like wombles but this was rather delightful and great on a summer’s day. It was very upbeat.
thurtinkle A story telling gnome who chatted to the folk below and told them a story, which had been made up, a tweet at a time, by people on twitter. I liked the reaction of the folk below the plinth when Thurtinkle’s head popped up. They also clearly felt like they were talking to a person, albeit a gnome, and not to a puppet but if you watch this hour, you will see why.
eeeyun. An hour of great music and balls bouncing free. It must have been satisfying to bounce all those balls like that and it was oddly satisfying to watch.
Ben 2 Frog
ben2frog Gigantic Bubbles & Dancing Frog
susanna_m After years of anxiety and very low self esteem, Susanna bravely decided to be at her most vulnerable; naked on a plinth in the midst of London’s busy Trafalgar Square, watched by thousands online. Susanna wasn’t some Playboy/Heat wannabe, her nude appearance, her honesty, her openness about past hang ups and her bravery were admirable and most touching.
Amanda – Bread Man
amanda Built life sized statue from loaves and bagels
geraldc Godzilla crushes London on the 4th plinth. There is also an interesting youtube video of Gerald creating his costume and props and going to Trafalgar Square for his hour, at Godzilla’s day out.
Man Becomes Statue
Neil_S is Nelson. It was interesting to see this man turn himself into a statue of Nelson and bark out orders. I haven’t seen all of this one yet, so will return to it soon.
Posh Girl Babysits Plinth
pricey. This may seem an odd choice, as this posh girl from Newcastle did nothing entertaining or even particularly interesting but it fascinated me because it was like a peek into her normal life. It was as though her friends had come round her house to kill time with her until they all went out for the evening, delayed only by the fact that she just had to babysit this plinth for an hour before they headed out. It felt like seeing her at home, doing exactly what she’d have been doing in, perhaps, a big kitchen while keeping an eye on something in the oven while her mother had popped out for an hour or while she babysat a younger sibling, already in bed, until parents got in or a replacement babysitter arrived. While they waited, she made some things from a kid’s jewellery kit and chatted normally to her friends, now and then talking briefly to other friends on the phone or telling the visiting friends the jokes that she’d been texted. You got the feeling she had said to her friends, ‘Yeah, let’s all go out to the club but I’ve got to babysit the plinth for an hour first, so come and hang at mine while I’m doing that and we can go out when the real babysitter arrives’. She made it seem such an everyday thing to do. I found that aspect very interesting.
Mandy describes life as a transvestite
mandy. Mandy spoke of how life can be made hell by people simply because they object a man who has the harmless compulsion to dress as a woman. It was brave, touching and admirable. Mandy’s partner (a woman, in case you wonder) was in Trafalgar Square, below the plinth, during this hour.
Kevin & Biscuit
Kevin_M_1. Of course, I have to have Kevin, my plinth by proxy person, plinth day Thursday 13 August, 5pm, plnther number 921.
Below are links to the archive hours of the regular Twitter twecklers who were on the plinth (more to be added as I find the links).
Below are links to One&Other droids who were on the plinth (more to be added as I find the links)
And, of course, John_L, later known as Captain John, who was a plinther and a regular in Trafalgar Square, frequently seen on cam during plinther hours. The twecklers and droids grew rather fond of John over the 100 days, even though he doesn’t use Twitter, so most of us only followed his antics via the One & Other webcam.
With 2,400 to sift through, it is worth randomly picking a few yourself and seeing what they are like. You will find them at One & Other Participants.