Lab | Log

Objects in the Mirror are Clearer Than They Appear

It’s the Lab’s last weekend in New York, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. In fact, I’ve spent my whole day trying.

My editor told me it would be nice to have a post about my own feelings as the Lab begins to wrap up its inaugural run—you know, thoughts and memories running through my mind, questions lingering in my head, words that appear when I think back on the past three months. He was probably right, so I agreed.

But then when I sat down to do this, I could only think of one word: sleep.

It would be a lie to say that the past three months have been easy. No, they’ve been downright exhausting.

I don’t mean that in a bad way. The exhaustion is the right kind—the fulfilling kind that feels worth it, even when you hit the lowest point.

Yet when I try right now to put my finger on the reason for this fatigue, moments and trends that have helped wear me down, I see only a blur of experiences; few details.

I see dozens—no, hundreds—of people who are smarter than I, forcing me to recognize the uncomfortable complexity of the things I’d taught myself to see as simple, cut and dry.

I see a series of battles—between what is, and what should be; what we think should be and what really shouldn’t; what we think we know, and what we don’t know at all; between the neighborhood’s perceptions of the Lab and the Lab’s perception of itself; between comfort and discomfort; between public and private good, between gentrified and gentrifiers; and I see a series of nights laying awake wondering which should be the winner.

I see myself wondering many times what the effects of all this will be—which of the people sitting in the audience will take the things they are learning here and turn them into something life- or even world-changing? Which brilliant seeds of ideas that have been produced here will germinate, and which will get buried too deep in the soil, be denied air, and die?

I see myself questioning with nervous excitement what the legacy of this Lab will be in New York; if and how New York will be different once the carbon-fiber frame is dismantled, the microphones silent. How it will change.

I see many moments of enlightenment, some of despond, and others of bewilderment, confusion, or positive elatedness.

I think you get it: my rearview mirror is foggy, and the back windshield muddy. Just like they are at the tail end of any good adventure.

Surely with enough distance the picture will come a little more into focus. Or perhaps sleep, more than distance.

But not yet. It’s not time to sleep just yet. We’ve still got two days to go, and there is a lot of digging into results we need to do Saturday and Sunday to understand what we’ve been doing here this whole time.

I’m hoping it will help me understand too.

  • Anonymous

    Hey

    I am a resident of the neighborhood and I stayed involved with the Lab
    during its run despite being distracted by other things. As my attention
    was drawn by the project, I interacted with it in a way that was
    meaningful for me and I look forward to posting the results at http://www.panmodern.com/.

    As it moves to Mumbai and Berlin, I hope to offer new observations that
    will document my experience thus far and hopefully connect with
    people’s experiences in those cities and at the Guggenheim and anyone
    involved with the project that echo my own.