In a crowd I wonder about the people who surround me. Is that laughing couple making fun of someone or have they just heard a good joke? Do those children belong to someone in the crowd or are they lost and looking for a home? Does that woman look angry because of a sagging mouth or is she is disgusted by what she sees? What is their inner dialog? What would it sound like?
In high school a friend and I used to go to O'hare airport (when it was legal to go to the departure gates without a ticket). We would sit and watch the travelers and make up stories about their lives and destinations. This one was a spy going to Poland, that one was a starlet on her way to Hollywood, those two just learned that their uncle had left them a fortune. We always added a sense of drama to the mundane.
People dressed up to get on planes in those days. No one had wheels on their luggage so there was a lot of lugging going on. Grim determination was mixed with anticipatory grins for the adventure before them. It wasn't difficult to imagine legends behind their gait.
Last year I spent a week at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It was an opportunity to refocus my inner dialog. I collected rocks, hiked every day, watched the sun set into water and imagined the stories behind the people on the beaches. The rocks I collected had holes in them. They reminded me of faces. I thought of them as silent witnesses to the human drama that surrounded them.
Now I am assembling my own crowd using these inanimate objects to build an animation. Each square has its own story. Thirty-five of them — because the whole is almost my height and I can reach both sides to hold the edges.