Every summer there are songs of the season, big blockbusters in the theaters, and the can't miss events throughout the city. This year I had a sticker that rather defined my summer. I'm not sure when I first saw tonight's sticker but I know I've come across it all over the city. Not only me actually, I've had others show me examples that they've found of it. One person was telling me that she's seen one of these in the middle of a tunnel. Now I could go into my experiences with catcalling or look into the issue at large but I feel like this would be a great disservice to this statement piece. Luckily for me, the #catcallingisharrassment tag at the bottom of this sticker does bring up some pretty clear results. Obviously there's the Instagram and Twitter results for this hashtag, but they are a mixed bag of the sticker and people's conversations about the problem. My Google search results also happily brought up the person behind this creation.
Projectile Objects is the site of the VJ Cornelius. He generally creates music videos and projection mapping for various groups. You can actually find some of his projection work at Spirit, the pizzeria in Lawrenceville, and he had a recent collaborative effort at the Mattress Factory back in January. Since his work seems to be mainly visual manipulations, I was truly curious about what influenced this slight deviation to his typical style. Now he does speak briefly about it in his blog that he has on his site but I wanted to see if he would be able to speak with me about it. So what follows is our brief interview that may be one of my better ones so far.
Well I guess to start off with, who are you?
:) That’s always a challenging question to answer. I am me. Always changing, growing, learning. It’s not really a question I can answer.
Are you originally from Pittsburgh? If not what drew you to the area?
I grew up in a suburb of the city, Monroeville. A normal middle-class kid with a small family.
Looking over your site Projectile Objects, I see you're a VJ who specializes in projection mapping and visual remixing. What drew you to that field?
I used to make hip-hop/ rap music videos from 2003-2008 in Pittsburgh. Not much competition back then and youtube didn’t exist or even Myspace Video. DVD’s were expensive, but digital cameras had evolved to HD and Final Cut Pro allowed us to make “high quality” on a low budget. As years passed and technology costs dropped — so did the music video budgets. I originally started VJing in an attempt to edit music videos in real time. (Bypass the week long edit and do it in a day (or an hour)). In 2008 I figured out how to do it, but there were hardware limitations that have since disappeared. Once I learned how to edit music videos in real time, I stopped making music videos and started VJing. This naturally progressed into Projection Mapping which was a small extension to my VJ workflow.
In general what are some of your influences artistically?
No rhyme or reason to it. I’m a sponge in the world around me. The only thing that shapes my creativity is a motto to “Create not consume!” and a “hanged man’s” (tarot) perspective.
Since you're more of a visual media artist, what drew you to creating this sticker? & Why this particular issue?
My friend and I had some lengthy conversations about their catcalling experiences and it ran around in my head until I came up with these stickers. At first I thought the simple message and plain visible text would help catcallers to understand that they are harassing people, but I was wrong. At the end of the day, the most important thing that these stickers can do is to start a conversation. At least half our population knows that this is a problem because they are the ones affected by it. Cat-Callers themselves, make up a small portion, but it is the rest of the “men” out there that stand by, contribute, or even worse, justify it being apart of their liberties. It’s street harassment and a bigger problem then some people care to think. All of which allows it to perpetuate.
I saw that you put the image file out there for others to print the stickers out for themselves. Have you seen a lot of people do this? I'm not sure if you can track it but has it popped up in different cities?
I’m not sure if anyone else has printed them. I know they’ve spread across the country. Close to 9,500 of them have disappeared. The first 500 in one night. The next 3,000 in less than 24 hours after getting them back from the printer in the mail. I couldn't print them fast enough. Now I'm running low and finding a quality printer who can make the hard to remove destructible stickers is a bit more challenging than you'd think.
Do you have a favorite spot you've seen the sticker so far?
I’ve saved a lot, but this was one I saw that helped shape my thoughts on the sticker: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVVQpoLA1P6/?taken-by=rich_frollini The photo was taken by a guy while he was at the gas pump. He asks, “So this is a problem at the gas pump?” and the first comment was, “You’d be surprised…” Of course, it happens at gas pumps, at bus stops, in public places, bars, Walt f**king Disney world, it happens all the time, so for this guy to even ask a question and for someone to answer — that’s the start of a conversation. Maybe he will learn, maybe he won’t. Maybe someone else will learn, maybe they won’t, at least it's a start.
To answer your question, at the moment Gas Pumps are my favorite. Highly visible in high target areas that station employees never seem to take down. And on top of that, if someone wants to rip down or deface a sticker, they are doing it in public for all to see.
Also, the first 3,500 stickers didn’t have a #hashtag on them so I don't know where they could have gone. The third run of stickers included the # after I heard stories of where people put them (even physically on their harassers) and wanted a way for those stories to be shared publicly. They shared a story in this post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BUPx6K-BoTT/?taken-by=travelingfeminist
Is this a project you hope to continue? Are you thinking about creating other stickers? Are there other issues or ideas you'd like to address?
I want it to continue, but these stickers are not enough. I have some other ideas and expect to do more in 2018 to combat this problem.
Do you have any upcoming projects you're excited about?
Lots, but no other stickers planned. With the help of Lili Cafe & Espresso A Mano, we placed our largest order to date for Black Lives Matter Wristbands. I look forward to seeing more of these spread through a city that needs to break its racial divide. At the end of the day, these are issues that affect us all and injustice for one is an injustice for all.
Feel free to expand or mention anything else you want to. Thank you again for taking the time to answer these.
I only wish that there was more that the city and local law enforcement was doing to combat street harassment. Instead, I hear plenty of stories about Pittsburgh Police officers catcalling friends of mine and the city tears down the stickers to help “clean up our streets.” :/