Adam Norton is a conceptual artist who created the Tank Project in 2008, as part of the City of Sydney’s Art and About festival. During this project armoured personnel vehicles were placed around central Sydney streets for a period of weeks. In this interview Adam talks about this and other works of conceptual art. In the excerpt below he describes reactions to the ‘tanks’ from passers-by.
Took lots of still shots, but also some video footage, and that was the best bit. I mean that was what the whole plan of the project was, the moment, the unguarded moment that a member of the public would have on the first second. In fact after, within a few moments, I think they probably started to rationalise various reasons why there might be tanks there, but it was that first few seconds. Some people just walked past on their busy day; often people with mobile phones walked past because I don’t think you’re really looking at the world when you’re on your mobile. But it was very nice to see that one person in ten would just have to do this three hundred and sixty degree walk ‘round them and kind of touch them at some point. There was one guy that over the course of about an hour he just kept on appearing, reappearing, and he was ethnically Chinese and he was carrying a shopping bag, so he sort of seemed to remind me of the shopping bag guy from Tiananmen Square. Every now and then he would do a few circuits of the tanks and then he’d disappear and then ten minutes later he’d come back and he’d walk around the tanks a couple more times and then disappear. And it was only looking at the footage later that he just kept on reappearing in the crowd, so he just seemed to be kind of mesmerised.