Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 9, 2012.


Story, place, and real time exploration from an artist under your influence

My name is Will May and I’m a photographer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. For over 20 years I've worked as an independent artist and collaborated on projects including LOOK3 and the World Peace Game. This fall I’ll be working in an artist residency at the Cité Internationale Des Arts in Paris, exploring the extraordinary (but ordinary) actions of a place. 

Paris is both real and imagined. You know it from personal experience, family memory, rumor, history, film, or fiction, and this information will be the basis for a series of explorations. 

Play an active role in a work of art. Use a story to assign me a point, path, or situation to investigate in Paris. I'll interpret using images, text, and sound. You'll be able to watch the process unfold on the website beginning in mid-September.* All backers get an e-book about the project in December. 

For the past few years I've been creating landscapes of middle distance; pictures at arm's length. I want to gather stories about the real and imagined Paris, and picture both of those places to fold into an ongoing series. 

I‘ll be your creative action at a distance. Here are three examples:

 1. Point - Describe a coordinate or place you've heard of, want to visit, or wish to return. Ex: I remember visiting the Louvre when I was twelve. Look for the fountain in the southeast corner of the plaza, and picture it upside down.

 2. Path – Create a path to traverse. A route you remember, group of interests, or shape on the map. Ex: take the green metro from Montparnasse to the end of the line. At every third stop exit and photograph the first red thing you see. 

 3. Situation – Develop a more open-ended scenario. Tell me to encounter a person or investigate a situation. Ex: meet with an older citizen and ask about their memories of the city. Make a portrait and a map based on their personal history. 

Take some time to get creative within this structure, talk to friends, or jump in with a story via Kickstarter. It doesn't have to be personal; art, fiction, history, even rumor can be a source, as long as it's about the place Paris. You can follow the project on the website beginning mid-September.* 

Don't have time to think of a story? You can support the project by pledging for a print, t-shirt, or viewmaster. Completely broke? Frustrated by fundraising? You'll be able to tell a Paris story via the project voicemail / email after backers have submitted theirs. Details will be on the website project page in mid-September.*

If you're an EXPLORATION backer, you'll get an email telling how to submit your story assignment, along with a secret phrase to confirm your identity. Once Exploration Backers have submitted stories I'll open the lines to all backers, and finally to everyone to tell their story. 

THANK YOU! Only your support and participation will make it possible, you're essential to the process. Remember, if we don't meet our goal we receive no funding at all. Questions? See the FAQ or contact me before you pledge.

* If you submit a story, please let me know if you wish to be anonymous or want your name attached to your exploration on the website.

I’m actively seeking ways to present this process and its products. Along with the website and e-book I'll give a talk about the project in Charlottesville this fall and create an installation at Let There Be Light at PVCC on Dec. 9, 2012. If you’d like to see the project where you are please let me know. 

Nothing is made in isolation. I’d like to specially thank Joey Tombs, and big thanks to Leah Stearns, John Grant, Stacey Evans, Abby Self, Max Fenton, Steve Taylor, Beryl Solla, Gabe DeLoach, Mark Burton, Catherine Dee, Thadd McQuade, Larry Garretson, Will Kerner, Emily Smith, Jon Sheridan, Paul Thulin, and Frank Gohlke for insight and help with this project. Also thanks to ArtDarpa who are you.

Project T-shirt image by ArtDarpa:

Music: As Colorful As Ever from Layers by Broke For Free

Original eiffel tower images - Théophile Féau 1888-89 - Wikimedia commons

All point / path / situation submissions are subject to acceptance by the artist. Every good faith effort will be made to fulfill the positive spirit of requests. Requests that promote harm will not be fulfilled. Photographs are printed on archival Hahnemüle smooth Fine Art Photo Rag 100% cotton paper with light fastness of 200+ years under normal lighting conditions.  T-shirts are Black, S-XL, W/M, made of certified organic cotton and printed with water-based ink rather than toxic PVC/Plastisol ink.


  • Your funding helps make the work better. It allows for numerous production and post production costs, metro/bus fees around Paris, extra insurance, envelopes, packing materials, postage, and occasional assistance with difficult assignments. It also helps the work take on new forms (such as an e-book and installation) and reach more people. This ask won't cover every expense, but will help offset the cost of the project.

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  • That's a good question, I'm curious about where the Paris we imagine begins and ends. I expect to work within the city, but will consider nearby destinations if critical to the story.

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  • Soon! We want everyone to tell a story about Paris. I'll give Exploration Backers priority, then work on Backers stories, then everyone else's until my residency ends.

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  • All of this is an attempt to make a creative process more open and available. The point/path/situation structure is a starting point, a way to interact and share using both intention and chance.

    My plan with the exploration is to make a range of pictures. Much depends on how the story is told - what information it contains or implies - as well as what I see along my journey.

    There will be instances where I can't make an image (ex: a building has been torn down), but I'll respond to that. I'll also make images that I see immediately. I'm open to making all sorts of pictures.

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  • The sooner the better, but if you have to wait the beginning of September is OK. You can always tell another one via the project email or voicemail later.

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    DIGITAL - I’ll list you on the website as a supporter, send updates with the latest news, and the project e-book at the end of the year. Thank you!

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    TSHIRT - BLK, S-XL, W/M Organic cotton t-shirt with custom ArtDarpa design (see below), listing on website, updates, and e-book. Thank you! Shipping incl. (International add $10)

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    EXPLORATION POINT - Choose a point for me to go to in Paris. I’ll interpret the location, post results, send a postcard from Paris, list you on site, send updates and e-book. Thank you!!

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    EXPLORATION PATH - Create a path for me to traverse in Paris. I’ll interpret the journey, post results, send a postcard from Paris, plus listing on site, updates and e-book. Thank you!!

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    PHOTO - 8"x12” photo from the project. You’ll select your signed photo from a special edition gallery, be listed on the site, get updates and e-book. Thank you! Shipping incl. (International add $5).

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    EXPLORATION SITUATION - create a situation for me to engage with: a scenario, person, or event in-depth. I’ll interpret, post results, and send a postcard from Paris, plus a t-shirt, listing on site, updates, and e-book. Thank you! (International add $5).

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    EXPLORATION PLUS - A 16"x20” (or smaller) photo plus POINT or PATH. You’ll select your signed photo, get a postcard, Viewmaster, t-shirt, listing on site, updates and e-book. Thank you! Shipping incl. (International add $10).

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    EXPLORATION ALL IN - A 24"x30” (or smaller) photo plus POINT, PATH, or SITUATION. You’ll select your signed photo, get a postcard, Viewmaster, t-shirt, listing on site, updates and e-book. Thank you! Shipping incl. (International add $10).

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Funding period

- (22 days)