Students will create a short story based on the setting of a landscape photograph.
National Core Standards
One class period for writing, one for revision
Additional Information: Background of Object Orange and “Auburndale Site.” It may be helpful to not share this with students until after they have written.
a. Object Orange is a group of artists who choose to remain anonymous in order to protect themselves from litigation or police action. Their goal is to raise awareness of the plight of abandoned houses in Detroit. They want “everyone to look at not only these [orange] houses, but at all the buildings rooted in decay and corrosion.” Out of this awareness of place, they hope to bring action and change.
b. Object Orange began as a project entitled “Detroit. Demolition. Disneyland.” First, they found abandoned houses situated next to major highways in order to ensure high visibility for suburban commuters. Next, the artists coated every surface—boards, windows, doors—Tiggeriffic Orange, part of the Mickey Mouse paint series found at Home Depot. Why orange? Similar to the safety orange sported by hunters and traffic cones, it is impossible to miss. When they finished painting, they photographed the house to document it before, hopefully, it was torn down by the city. This particular photograph of a house, located on Auburndale Street in Highland Park, is part of a series from 2007. similar landscapes in the series featured cracked roads, overgrown weeds, leaning lampposts. The exhibition catalog includes before and after photographs, highlighting the transformation of an average decrepit brown or brick building into a brightly-colored attraction. Also, painting the house one solid color unifies the broken windows and jagged boards; it flattens the façade and turns glass and wood into a formal study of line and texture. In Auburndale #3, the austere and cold surroundings contrast with the bright house and provide juxtaposition and tension. The heavy gray sky, low horizon line, and leafless winter trees also contribute to a dismal feel. That there are no other buildings or people around is confusing, as it is an urban setting, which we typically associate with activity and commerce. Object Orange’s project is complex. It includes 1. a physical house, 2. a printed photograph, and 3. an intangible social component. The photograph provides documentation for the entire project, ensuring that it will be remembered and perhaps perpetuated.