Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Yeah! A dead guy!

Somewhere in Santa Monica there's a billboard that displays the year's number of smoking-related deaths. My aunt and uncle live very close to it, and one year when I was young enough not to have anything better to do, I went with my family to spend New Year's in CA. And instead of fireworks, we watched the billboard roll back to zero.

I'm reminded of this because of Monument (If if Bleeds, it Leads). This art installation scans thousands of newsfeeds and drops a bright yellow BB for every person reported to be killed. As the artist says, "Thus a confusing ethical situation exists; the viewer finds himself secretly and selfishly waiting for someone to be killed only so that he can watch a little yellow ball bounce around on the floor."

In Santa Monica, when the billboard rolled back to zero, we cheered, wished each other a happy new year, and walked back to my uncle's apartment. But before we were too far away, we heard another set of cheers. We turned to see the source, and the billboard read, "00000001".

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