Of the many unspoken codes of public transportation, perhaps the most crucial is this: Keep, as much as possible, to yourself. The ride—on the train, on the subway, on the bus—may be full of familiar strangers; politeness and pragmatism, however, tend to emphasize the "stranger" over the familiar. Why interact with other people when you can, for the good of all aboard, ignore them?
But what happens when those mandates gets reversed—when the stranger on the subway becomes, actually, a little too familiar? Since early 2012, the artist and sculptor George Ferrandi has been exploring that idea through her project "it felt like i knew you…," a series of time-lapse images that capture what happens when the anonymity of the city commute gets replaced, determinedly, with intimacy.
It goes like this: Ferrandi rides the New York City subway—and "falls asleep" on fellow passengers. Her collaborator Angela Gilland, strategically situated across the aisle, shoots video of the scene that ensues.
The point of this exercise isn't just to capture delightful/revealing stills of personal space invaded (although, awesomely, it does that). It's also to explore what "personal space" means in the first place—especially on public transportation, which not only carves the idea of individualized spaces into its layouts, but which also adapts its assumptions about those spaces according to other technologies. Ferrandi wanted to see what happens, essentially, when one of the most intimate things in the world—sleeping in front of someone else—meets the most public of settings.