Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture: The HafoSafo Chorus and the Sunset Foot Clinic Sign Online
As part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., Machine Project asked artists to take on the whole environment of Los Angeles and create performances shot on video and edited into short experimental films in response to notable architectural sites throughout the city.
I was not the first to discover the quirky Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign just a few blocks down Sunset from Machine Project. My friend Kevin lives in Echo Park and explained to me the sign's supposed predictive powers. Locals say when you drive by, the side you see first, happy or sad, will predict the fate of your day.
I was enamored with a lot of the sites that I found when researching "The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture," and while I matched most of them up with other artists, I kept the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign in my back pocket for a potential project of my own.
Behind the scenes at Machine, all the staff are artists too. Grant writers are directing plays, video editors are singing folk songs, and even the bookkeeper is working on new sculptures. The project manager in me knew a web-based project would give me the luxury of working without, permits, insurance, or the site owner's consent. But we also wanted to activate the site, in line with the rest of the Field Guide performances. So I invited our Programs Manager Jessica Cowley to lead a singalong on the street underneath the spinning sign in conjunction with the launch of the website.
I sat down with Jessica after the singalong and website launch to talk about our mutual love of vernacular signage, collective memory, and the catharsis of singing together.