The Sweet Spot (2011) is a tongue-in-cheek examination of my morning train commute in Chicago. Like many commuters, I found it challenging to get a seat on the train during the morning rush. I thought that if I could predict where the doors would open when the train stopped, I could stand at that spot and be the first person on the platform to enter the train, thereby increasing my chances of getting a seat. I began by surreptitiously labeling the planks of wood on the platform with a sharpie, allowing me to track exactly where the train stopped and where all the doors were located in relation to the platform. Each morning I noted where stopping occurred, as well as many other factors that could possibly show a correlation with the stopping location, such as the train ID number, temperature and weather conditions, what time the train arrived, other commuters on the platform or train, and even what the attendant was eating for breakfast.
Once I had collected 50 days of data, I created a 3.5 x 8 foot hand-drawn map charting the train’s location. I commissioned a statistical analysis in order to determine if any of the noted variables had an impact on the probability of my getting a seat. The findings indicated seven “sweet spots” on the platform where the train doors opened most often (about 24% of the time), odd-numbered trains and trains arriving before 8:00am being most likely to have doors opening on those spots. I made photographic self-portraits at each of the spots holding a hand-drawn sign indicating the “sweet spot.” Ironically, in the 50 commutes studied, I was actually 25% less likely to get a seat on the train when the doors opened directly in front of me as opposed to when I had to walk to them.
When The Sweet Spot was exhibited at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, I recreated the platform to scale on the floor of the museum using duct tape and vinyl lettering. The seven photographs and large diagram were hung above the floor installation and were accompanied by a glass viewing case displaying the 50 daily notes. The Sweet Spot was exhibited again in 2015 at the Bennington Museum as part of my solo exhibition: In The World.