The End of the Day

IndependentUnited States
2021 People's Choice Award
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Voting closes at 23:59 EST (EST time: UTC-5) on 4 February 2021.

Engaging

Production / Indie/Non-Profit

Team

April Soetarman - artist, designer, producer

Overview

The End of the Day is a public audio installation that can only be played at sunset. It’s a guided audio experience about a moment many years from now, when you are looking back and reflecting on a life well-lived –about reclaiming a good future as a brave and hopeful act.

There are a series of engraved brass plaques installed on benches in public parks, facing the sunset over the water. Instructions: “The End of the Day / [phone number] / Make yourself comfortable. Call at sunset.” If the participant dials the number around sunset, a ten-minute guided narration will play, with a series of prompts to contemplate and short pauses in-between. The player is invited to think of responses from memory, or picture a fiction from their imagined future. Outside of sunset time, a short message invites the player to come back at the right time and call again.

The End of the Day is currently installed at 3 sites across NYC, with more NYC and Bay Area sites upcoming. Outside of New York, the piece can also be experienced as an online performance, with live audio and visuals. There is a companion website with more information http://theendoftheday.guide.

This piece began late September 2020 – a trying and chaotic time with the relentless news cycle and upcoming US election, which made it very difficult for many to plan or feel hopeful about the future. I wanted to create something that would be a brief respite from the despair of the present. I can’t say that everything will be ok – that would be empty and disingenuous. Instead, I would like to invite you to consider that someday in the future, you will be ok, and you will look back on the places you’ve been and people you’ve loved and the life you’ve led with something akin to joy.

The first version was playtested as an online prompts/journaling game with live narration. I then wanted to make it more widely available – we can still safely enjoy public art outdoors, away from screens. I had to rewrite it to prime participants to be in the right headspace, especially if they were to unexpectedly encounter the piece. By specifying the locations (beautiful views, not too crowded) and the sunset time (built w/Twilio) meant that you’re already more contemplative, slowed down, and appreciative of your surroundings.

The public installation has been running since November and is actively receiving calls. In October, I ran seven playtests, with 40 international participants (aged 19-60+). Most participants said they were calmer and more centered after; many of them requested to play the piece again at later date.

Quotes:
“[It] made me feel a sense of peace that I haven’t felt since March.”
“…spent 10min watching the sunset in quiet contemplation, envisioning the future and reflecting upon the moments I most cherish.”
“…[an experience] that was very profound and emotionally true.”
“A balm for our times.”
“…the very best of what public art can be.”

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