At Your Service

At Your Service: Comments+Feedback.

Daily creative treatments in urban environments delivered by artist-in-service Markuz Wernli Saitô. Rain or shine. Seven days a week. Free of charge.

Besides the varied responses during the actual one-hour events, my daily online video postings included a secondary audience who witnessed the interventions with growing anticipation. Half way in the project I was too busy to do the video editing. In the weeklong absence of new movie clips a good number of people got worried about my whereabouts asking me if I am allright... Here follows a selection of individual responses:

“I found the spirit of your art project inspiring, especially how you created connections and relationships with strangers through your playful public acts. At Kalliopeia, we are interested in projects which highlight our interconnectedness as human beings in everyday life, something which I think your project accomplishes in an unconventional way.”
commentsHannah Merriman, Kalliopeia Foundation, San Rafael

“Thanks for the calling me in today! What a lovely weather to participate! I just couldn't resist joining you to "guard" the trees. It's been nice to take time to bond with them!I stayed later than I expected...lots to observe and consider as I tried sketching them. That one tree with the extended roots is fascinating. Also the colors and textures of the green moss on the bark are works of art. ”
commentsKiyomi Yatsuhashi, Kyoto

“I really like how you refer to what you are doing as seemingly useless. Don't you think that would describe most art? Anyone who chooses to look only for a minute might just see a waste of time, space, and energy. To be honest that's been my opinion of quite a lot of art. Especially performance art. I'm not ashamed to admit to being a plebeian and uncultivated individual. But in your work there is something so very genuine and appealing to me. When I first saw your documentation I thought, what the crap is this? Then I saw how people on the street stopped and were genuinely interested in what you were doing. Then some people even participating in your projects. And there it was for me, seeing the thing that means the most to me about art - a honest communication and connection between two people. The more I think about it the more it seems like the most important thing that anyone could do - especially in a world where populations have become so urban, anonymous and disconnected. I really want to thank you for this project. I probably would never have the guts to do something like this, it makes me happy to see people like you in the world. I am interested as to where you see this project going next? Or is there even a next stage? Maybe it's enough to just keep doing these same projects for the rest of your life? Do you think the actual services matter? ”
commentsNathan Ryan, Winnipeg

“I enjoyed the photo gallery. Each location seems to get suprised with the yellow jacket members. I like your positive energy with people.”
commentsAyumi Matsuzaka, Berlin

“I was very interested in your project which you have realized on film, because it relates to our environment these days, and I found very interesting point on what you do. Also I especially liked your body motion!! it really makes me to feel happy. Please invite me in whenever you need volunteers.”
commentsKazuyo Suita, Kyoto

“Unfortunately, i won't be able to make it to kyoto (unless your service includes round-trip airfare). But it sounds really interesting.”
commentsMartin Gloeckle, New York

“Congratulations! You've won Maya's "Making the World a Better Place" Award. Each week, a seemingly insignificant story or act that makes the world a better place is chosen and given recognition. You are among a fine group of heroes.”
commentsMaya Hara, Kyoto

“I admire how consequently you provoke average citizens und call for participation. Keep this going because it is highly political and of urgency. This is true art - beyond consumerism. Good things come with time...”
commentsJudith Biberstein, Bern

“I just watched your video project and really love what you are doing. I wonder what would happen if you brought your project here to San Francisco? It would be interesting to see the cultural differences, and in the way it is perceived... Somehow I feel that the people are maybe less jaded than they are here in the US - just my perception. I liked what you said about how requesting permission is often the end of the experiment. I have also found this to be true.”
commentsDanny Buskirk, San Francisco

“Your carefully conceived, accessible, impacting documentation of equally as impressive art actions came to my attention while I was doing research for a presentation (my second) on chanoyu for a multi-cultural dance composition class at UCLA.”
commentsLauren W. Deutsch, Los Angeles

“What a lot of fun you must have had. I particularly liked the artistic pigeon who was trying so hard to help.”
commentsPatsy Pearce, London

“I think street art is a great interactive project. Its bringing the art in the modern art museums out to the folks on the street, and ironically I can't wait to see a documentary and samples of your work at SF moma or in D.C. at the hirschorn museum of modern art too!”
commentsJeanne Chou, Washington D.C.

“I think only you could do this with such lack of self-consciousness, sincerity, and good intent... I think the concept is really wonderful and it is exciting to try it in different cultures. I plan to watch at least one everyday when I need a little cheering up. I have often thought about how the ordinary becomes ordinary, how we walk around on legs, and sit, etc.”
commentsDeborah Cordell, Charlotte

“The Mobile Tea Ceremony clip is amazing! The clouds passing and sun creating shadows captures the ethereal nature of tea ceremony as well as the tangible feeling of 'time' implied naturally.”
commentsMaggie Hallam, Montreal

“I sat and enjoyed it and am inspired to be more in my life moment to moment as well. To treasure and interact quietly. To allow connection and play. I am grateful for your kind, compassionate and brave exploration of what is here now.”
commentsMD, Emeryville

“I've checked in a few times on your project and really enjoyed it. Interesting on many levels, and great to bring creativity and daily life together.”
commentsKieran Ridge, Mill Valley

“You gave all of us a truly unique view of Kyoto, and for me personally a reminder of what I originally wanted to do when I came here: Communicate.”
commentsJonas Hult, Kyoto

“I saw all your movies almost everyday and I have to say the the more you went on the more it was funny and interesting for us, the audience. Also I think that your video skill is quite good, even if we count that you were busy in performing, organizing, arranging, meeting people and so on. I also have to say that the more you proceed the more your set of performances takes a deeper meaning, becomes really nice, communicate something more that I still cannot make clear to myself! ”
commentsAlessandro Mavilio, Kyoto

“The canal tours are wicked! Do people look at you like you're crazy?! We love all of your clips, especially when people (total strangers, right?!) participate and enjoy. There was one where it looked like a cop was yelling at you - is that what was happening? We LOVE them!! ”
commentsKristen Doherty, Ashville

“I looked at every one of your videos. It looks like you met some interesting people. To me it seems like younger people were more keen on your ways than the older ones, although you did talk with quite a few older ladies on trash days too. Overall, I liked it. Thanks for providing me a glimpse of Japan.”
commentsJennifer Sugg, San Francisco

“I simply enjoyed and smiled at your movies. It occurs to me though, that noone has mentioned your great miming abilities (exaggerated gestures) which are so necessary to the read of these wordless actions. ”
commentsJayne Holsinger, New York

“Markuz, I had such a good time watching the time-lapse videos. It lets you see patterns that you would probably miss in real time. And whether the spectator participant is a pigeon (did you send that to Debra?) or the kid that was intrigued by your "bridge sitting", the pieces work perfectly by leaving behind an emotional trace that we cannot even fathom. Which is of course true of every step we take.”
commentsArturo Sinclair, Gainesville

“Absolutely brilliant. So surreal to see a funky white guy (in neon over robes no less!) re-engage modern Japanese folks in their own traditions. It would be interesting to see how people in some rural town in Texas would respond to Markuz... ”
commentsVirgil Wong, New York

“Love the interations that happen between you and whoever. You seem to be such a fine gentleman during the most troublesome meetings. ”
commentsEric Schoenbrunn, Kyoto

“Looks like you are having fun ! I like the thank yous on the trash! Good idea! The coin mosaic thing ?? not really clear in my mind yet ... is it to make blind people become rich??? Just kiddin... Looks like the pigeon had his part of the cake too huh! Did you buy him bread with all the coins later... or did the blind guys used the coins to put it in the vending machines to get a nice warm milk tea ceremony with you!?? ”
commentsBoris De Fauconval, Phuket

“Japan has inspired you and cracked you wide open! This was truly unique and refreshing! Congratulations for challenging yourself beyond limits! ”
commentsMirella Pejcic, Stockholm

“I like the way performance arts tests the reaction of people and how you get to make actions out of the ordinary that question our daily living habits. I think my favourite out of all of them is the tea ceremony. It incorporates the aspect of traditional Japanese customs in an open space.”
commentsAnne Wadano, Toronto

“Congratulations, Markuz. What a truly wonderful piece of work - to bring the mundane and the divine together, to invite into our awareness the interweaving of art, 'reality' and spirit. Hooray on your work of service to Life! I am so thrilled you are up and running with this. What an amazing and gifting meditation and practice. So close to the marrow of life and finding the sweet pure joy and spirit in all.”
commentsTeresa Ruelas, San Francisco

“I can totally see how you are trying to make people stop and think about their surroundings and what is going on. And not just are the projects pretty interesting, the quality of the videos and the attention to detail in the projects is fantastic. It looks to me that you are going to be on Japanese TV rather sooner than later once you grab some local attention with these projects... Oh - and the video with the coin mosaic and the bird is very, very funny. So, if we are in Kyoto next time, can we come along for a Canal Walk? ”
commentsThomas Sturm, San Francisco

“This site and project look fantastic! First, I really like the home page, the suplus amount of info and images are reminiscent of a corporate or govenment page with more info than space, so its a play on that official kind of information desemination.
I also like the way the project is unfolding via the calendar, it encourages you to return to check what's happening.
Your choice of catagories is intruiging as a mix of activites that are debatable as either private activity/public or shared activity. At one end is an action perhaps based on a "real" service of guide, the canal tour guide. At the other end is the most poetic "tree guarding", a service that you don't know that you need until you see it, and think about it as guardian of all that is, and all that can't guard themselves.
It's interesting how something like the note to the trashmen is a communication to them, yet it also starts so many conversations with people seeing you place the note. It also becomes a very heroic task, as it makes one realize that there is no way that you could attach a note to every bag, yet that is your optimistic intention.
The bridge-sitting also raises interesting questions. By turning the chairs you either are confronting traffic and/or inviting conversation, or, again becoming the "tour guide" for facing the view together. Did you find that more people joined you if you were facing traffic or facing the view?
The filming that is taking place is very good. For instance the camera staying on that plie of trash as you go out of camera emphasizes it as a herculian task. And during the recent tea ceremony the shot that shows the traffic zipping by contrasts well with your desire to clear a quiet place for the ceremony.
Service, it seems, is the bringing of civility.”

commentsJan Razauskas Kachadourian

“I work as a personal trainer here in LA, and your site/work has slapped me in the face...in a good way. Thanks for reminding me to slow down, and really see again.”
commentsCoop, Los Angeles

“Service flouresencts are your color! It's a really creative way to get people to interact with you. Suddenly you seem safe because you are designated service man. Audio for the clips would be nice.”
commentsJenny Hanson, Minnesota