New idea for the “What is your treasure” series

Plastic treasure chest on Chicago's London Guarantee Building  (2)

For years I have been leaving plastic treasure chests around Chicago with a message inside that says “What is your treasure?” Only recently did I realize that the photos would have more impact if I shot the treasure chest with the note showing.

What is your treasure? (on Wabash Ave light pole)

I really like the idea of having the paper showing in the photo, because then the viewer of the photo immediately gets the idea of what the treasure chest is doing in that location. The only thing is that when the paper is in the jaws of the treasure chest like this, it looks like the chest is eating the message. Which is funny, but weird.

And now, I just had the idea that I could photograph the paper hanging out of the treasure chest closed! It would be like a little tag hanging out. AAAAAND! The part of the message that is inside the chest could be an email address for people to email their answer!

I never include a website address on any of my public art, because I don’t want my artwork to be promotions. They are artwork for someone to consider and possibly change their day a little. I don’t want them to be self-serving promotion engines for me. Having a URL on any of my public art immediately makes it into a “here’s something neat, but i’m putting this here, so you visit my site.”

But with an email address, that changes things. Especially if it’s a gmail address, because then i’m not promoting a domain. All I ask for is feedback. I’ve been meaning to put email addresses on some of my pieces, but I’m having a hard time thinking of a good gmail address that will capture the feedback I desire on all my public art projects.

For this particular project with the treasure chests, the hanging out message works great! It captures someone attention. They open the chest to see what’s inside, and it’s a request for someone to share what their treasure is. I’m essentially asking someone to fill up the treasure chest with their thoughts.

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12 years ago

Like a Hershey’s Kiss without chocolate! 🙂 I think it’ll be hard to come up with an email address for this that isn’t already taken by a 14 year old girl. “yourtreasure” – 100:1 that’s taken even with tons of numbers after it. What would be interesting would be grabbing a whole new domain for it, then the user part of the email could be different for each chest. You could track responses and see trends from chests found in certain areas. To avoid the self-promotion part (if people decide to check out the domain instead of just emailing), you could have the domain just link to a charity website. Or a certain art museum.

12 years ago

Or twitter. Don’t forget about twitter.

Tom Saaristo
12 years ago

I love Sparx idea

12 years ago

I think that’s a fabulous idea! I still have the one I found (“found” meaning following your specific directions and locating it)

12 years ago

ha! no that’s not why I used the photo., I just wanted to show the one I “found” that I still have … and it was quicker to use that photo. I like the option to respond to your message … I think as long as it is easy (maybe a couple of options email/twitter or whatever you choose) will be great! good luck!

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