‘How are you?’ is an interesting question. It is the most commonly asked question in the English language and also one of the most open questions. How we are could cover all manner of things – from thoughts, memories and emotions to physical condition, sensory perceptions and all the various small things that make up our existence. Yet we human beings, in our beautiful quirkiness, have managed to turn this massively open question into a closed one with a standard set of answers.
Inspired by the artwork of Gillian Wearing, I decided to try and see if I could get people to tell me how they really were. So I headed down to campus on a quiet Saturday, armed with nothing more than a marker pen, some blank paper and a camera. The reaction I got when I asked the question was interesting – utter surprise and a large, thoughtful pause preceding the response. However, even more interesting were the answers themselves, with different people interpreting the question in completely different ways and every answer opening a small window portraying a slight essence of the person’s life.
Think about it – how would you answer it? How are you? Really.
Images: Stephen Lovejoy