Adventures in respectful vandalism

I had a bit of trouble at first in selecting a place to vandalize with which to interact.  The locations to which I have strong connections are for the most part 1) In a different state, 2) On campus, or 3) My apartment.  A lengthy road trip was out of the question, the Tawes building (for all its charms) lacks a certain something, and the only evidence for other people interacting with my apartment was the vehicle registration card that was left here by a previous tenant and which I, sadly, threw away when I found it on the top shelf in the kitchen.  As I contemplated these considerations, I determined that it would be quite absurd if — here of all places — I couldn’t think of a sufficiently memorialized spot.  However, I also did not want to get arrested.  Thus I settled on a location of moderate fame:  the George Mason Memorial.  I discovered it by walking into it during a ramble around the tidal basin last year; I feel rather fondly toward it, mostly because it seems so easy to neglect or to pass by.

George Mason Memorial name George Mason Memorial from a distance


This is supposed to be a fountain in front of the memorial, but it has no water.  I think it looks like a great spot for some theatre-in-the-round.

Instead of a traditional blog post, I put a monologue in my QR code.  I wanted to do something respectful (since this is, after all, very public property with which to attempt interaction), brief, and that didn’t immediately indicate my real name.  I made a minute-long movie using xtranormal, for which I selected an animated character who could (with some generosity of the imagination) represent me.  The link to which I attached my QR code sends the viewer to my video as published on YouTube, here:  The video can also be played on here: , but I thought it best to use the YouTube link since more people are likely to be familiar with it and to have phone apps for it.  The movie itself is a little excessively cheerful, but I hoped that this might serve as a defense against the potential annoyance of serious-minded visitors to the memorial!


(I took some pictures and tried to look like an innocent tourist while I was waiting for my opportunity to pounce with tape.)

The statue of Mr. Mason was created by sculptor Wendy Ross.  More info about her work (including the memorial) can be found at her website, here:  I taped my code to the back of one of the pillars.  The way you see it is by sitting on the bench with George and sidling all the way back so that you are leaning on the back of the bench and (unless you are, like him, nine feet tall) your feet are dangling merrily straight out in front of you in the posture of a five-year-old on any adult’s furniture.  Judging by the number of people I saw climb up there while I was waiting for a witness-free moment to do the deed, I’m not the only one to feel that this is a desirable spot in which to sit (though few may scoot far enough back to spot my code).



These two photos were taken from the same spot; looking to the right, one sees my code on a pillar; turning to the left, one sees George.

After I finished (and ascertained that I had avoided arrest), I paid a visit to my other favorite statue in D.C. and bought a Rosie the Riveter lunchbox.  All in all, not a bad day!

George Mason Memorial with QR codeCIMG2349

3 thoughts on “Adventures in respectful vandalism

  1. That is seriously a cool idea… I could totally see unleashing my students out into a town with QR codes leading to YouTube videos… tucking this idea away! And I definitely felt awkward placing my QR code as well – I thought I could tuck it on the back of the sign, but it was double-faced! And next to a highway.

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