Reported Findings

These are the reports that people who participated submitted.

Date Participant
April 10 Gabriel

sorry I can't get the texts in real time, but damn even reading the archived messages is fun!

At the truck stop this evening I asked three guys, "Can we Talk?" No one stopped, but the third guy stopped; stared right at me; shook his head, and quickly walked into the bathroom. I stuck a note on the outside bathroom door.

Can We Talk

Funny this action reminds me of My Mom. Thanks!
  Julie RayI signed up because my friend Denise Uyehara told me about the project and I wanted to check it out. Each time I get a text message, my phone tells me I got 10 or 8 or 12 messages even if it's only 1 or 2. So I'm getting worried that I'm going to go over my text limit and I want to cancel!! I still think it's a really cool idea but I just don't have time to do it.
April 9Monica

When I recited something I had memorized from childhood ("We must, we must, we must increase our bust..."),

my (male) partner said, "I used to say that, too." Ha.


Twice I've received texts while hanging out with my kids (two girls, 8 and 6). The first time they watched me 'perform'--turning my toes to the right, then waddling like a penguin.

The second time, they wanted to participate, so we all looked to the right, then to the left, then turned around and sat down. (Which required them standing up, because they had already been sitting down.)

They wanted to see the texts, too...they're fascinated that their mama is getting orders to perform from her cell phone!


after, although, as, as if, because, before, for, if, in order that, less, provided, since, so that, than, that, though, till, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while

April 8 Jo in response to Gabriel

There is some technology required to read this performance in real-time, I'm afraid... but you can read always read the texts messages on this web site and perform the gestures when it seems like a good idea - like when you want to get closer to someone you don't know (or just want to start a round).

All of my text messages are also tweets (@jonovelli).


I heard there was away to participate via email.

Sorry, I have no text service or even a cell phone.


Jo in response to Art Teacher

I am very interested in your students' response.

They may be interested to know that the performance comes, somewhat, from my own discomfort with making small talk with people I don't really know, in public situations.

I prefer small, intimate conversations. I often wonder what's at stake for people when they chit chat. I tend to privilege the risk associated with getting to know someone instead of acting like I'm getting to know someone.

I was thinking about how I could construct accidents that, maybe by breaking the chit chatting habit, social life could be more interesting, engaging and, ultimately, let people actually get to know each other better. What do you think? Can that work?

The question of gossip is quite salient, actually. I see the conversations I'm inviting people to start as inversely related to gossip. Yes, it is a sort of coded talking that I'm proposing; a code that's written through seemingly random, meaningless gestures. Is chit chatting a code too? Do people who have a lot to say without risking vulnerability actually speaking another language? How can speaking in code be a vulnerable condition when no one else shares that language?

Art Teacher

I am telling my 7th grade students about this performance piece. Here are some of my questions and their answers.

"Is this art?"

z: No, because you are gossiping.

j: Yes, because this is a performance piece based in time with reflected writings as documentation. How is sending people text message instructions and singing row, row, row your boat gossiping?

k: because you could be talking in about something else -- in code language. Like you coud be telling someone they are retarded.

Random comment

a:You guys are communicating in secret codes and it's not fair that we don't know what the instructions are.

April 6 Jo

Today, 12 people from many different area codes subscribed... all in the same minute! With 63 subscribers, 28 of them have phone numbers in the Metro Phoenix area.

April 4 Renee

Most of these texts have caught me when I'm alone--since I'm alone most of the time--and therefore I feel as though the Texts From the Fringe experience is totally foreign. It's been quite disorienting, actually.

Are others always around people, I wonder?

How unusual is it for someone to live a solitary life?

Diana S.

Blemish experiment: After i described it People said- it's obvious you are an engineer!

Show your ear: My husband kissed my ear.

Jo, in response to Eileen

this is so great. thanks for the deets! this is exactly what i hoped could happen with the work: tempe marketplace, public library, park. thank you for taking up the spirit of the project!


many fabulous reactions...and many innocuous reactions and experiences. in particular looking in a stranger's ear became quite interesting. also no one would help me untie my shoe laces (at tempe market place) this afternoon. i waited and asked many strangers passing by. they did not want to get that close. hard to tell who might sneeze next in a public library. but most people accepted the pieces of tp and said thanks, even though they might not have needed it. bowing in public was interesting. i did so in a public park near three young boys. they did not applaud, but proceeded to flip backwards off a picnic table and bowed for me. i applauded them. tricks!


The recite a scene from last night was fun! I had just seen a show at the Fringe, and when I got the text I was inspired to try to repeat something from the show... but then I couldn't remember anything specific! So I decided to go for "To be or not to be, that is the question" to one of our artists (Ellie), and our volunteer (Bucky). They thought it was funny :-) I immediately gave them the cards and I think they signed up.

We did the thought-sharing one later all together.

I later shared the my problem in not being able to remember a scene from a show that I had just seen with the guy whose show it was. He enjoyed that :-) He said he doesn't blame me, he doesn't remember anything either. But he was interested in your piece, and I gave him a card. Now he is totally the type of person that would go all out with following the instructions, I think..

April 3 Alex

I've tried a few. I'm in a new state and the people that surround me are my roomies. I've been asked to quit screwing with them.

I checked my phone after work yesterday to see that I'd missed a few. Some would have made me very nervous to carry out.

The strangest discovery is that I'm not so much afraid to be thought a weirdo, I'm afraid I'll catch a weirdo in the performance and end up walking into an uncomfortable interaction... that the predator will become the prey!


I tried staring into someones ear, but she misinterpred it as me waiting for her to get through a door. She said, go ahead. I said, naw, I'm just staring into your ear because I'm supposed to. She looked concerned and confused. I didn't get to show her my ear.

I think a lot of the instructions are on the more intimidating side, and its hard to muster up the courage to follow them. The row row row the boat was cool.

How are your things on your side? Getting many subscriptions? Getting much feedback.

  Carole M.

I am not wearing sox.

  Jo in response to Stjepan

it was a surprisingly hectic evening. if i wasn't rewriting as i went, i was watching the clock or updating the web site. glad i didn't try to do this from the field.

interestingly finding i have as many susbcribers from area codes outside phx as i do within. thanks to all who have been doing the actions. were there too many? too few? were they timed appropriately? lots of factors to track.

April 2 Stjepan I had a chance to react to two of the messages. The first one I sat down immediately, but I didn't have any calling cards, so I got up to get some. The second one I covered my mouth and told a secret to a stranger. She looked at me like I was crazy :) How are things looking on your end?

Two things make that hard:

1) when I received text I was in a huge empty parking lot at work no people

2) in 10 min (if I get up) I'll be in at a family event where I know everyone

April 1 Jo

I find it surprising when people take me so literally.


Finding that it's sort of tricky to update the textmark from my phone. Did all my subscribers get two messages today?

March 30


I'm finding a variety of obstacles when subscribing participants. People claim to not text much for various reasons including expense, know-how, and preference. Others find their arm twisted, a stylistic obstacle. Sometimes, when I see someone checking email or texting I hand them a card and say "while you have your phone out, why don't you subscribe... " Is that pushy? Probably.

People's concerns about privacy opportune conversations about spam and solicitous phone calls.

Many of my 32 subscribers are people out of town, another interesting finding. I expect these proportions to be inverted after Friday, when the performance really begins.