my experience of letting the public look through my phone.

Nick Hugh Schmidt

When first proposing the idea of having my phone on display, I felt a sense of excitement. I thought about others looking through my phone and wondering if they would have a sense of voyeurism. For me, to have complete strangers looking through my phone, and reading my everyday life, gave me a thrill. That was not the only thrill that I would feel while doing this project.

When I first left my phone in the gallery for viewers to look at, I was not worried. I believed that the people coming to the gallery were respectable, and they believed in the art that I was doing. I trusted the gallery director would keep it safe, and I was on my way. But, not long away from the gallery, I realized that I rely on my phone more than I could imagine. I walked to the L stop and proceeded to get on the train to Manhattan. But before I knew what was going on, I was going deeper into the depths of Brooklyn. I had gotten on the wrong train. Second nature kicked in and I reached for my phone to orient myself and see where I was. My phone wasn’t there of course. I realized in that moment that I rely on my phone to do the simple tasks of reading and understanding basic directions. That’s when my self-imposed circumstance became apparent and the reality hit me.

Here I was, in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, without a cell phone, with the feeling that there was no way to get in contact with anyone. My direction skills suddenly diminished because  now I was phoneless. When anxiety kicks in, a person’s mind starts to run in directions that they would not have considered when calm. I started to wonder if people where going to delete important things on my phone, or if I was going to get some important message from my family which I would not see because I was phoneless. The phone was my safety blanket, and now it was gone. I had a hard time functioning without it, but then a voice inside my head told me, “Nick this isn’t the first time you have thought like this.”

I have lived in New York now for two years. When I first moved here, I didn’t know no anyone. I had the same anxiety then, as I do now. I was roaming the streets not knowing where I was going even with the phone! I soon enjoyed it though, not knowing if I was going in the right direction, all on my own in this big city. I soon took that approach in this situation as well. I just walked the streets of New York, free from the wireless world. It was invigorating. All the anxiety that I had before went away and I began to feel the thrill again of doing this project. It brought out a variety of emotions that I was not expecting, but that is the point of art. To feel something you never thought you would.