The Happy Birthday Mr. President Experiment

June 21st, 2006 by Larry Smith

Proof that driving on the NJ Turnpike is good for something besides getting me home to see my pop and you to the beach: I heard a public radio piece about performance artist Sheryl Oring’s cross-country personal media project. Oring’s zipping around the country, stopping in cities whose first letters spell out the word “Birthday,” and asking folks she meets at flea markets and public parks to offer a birthday wish to the president (b. July 6, 1946. “I feel like people have a lot to say, and this is an amazing method to get at what people are thinking,” Oring says. She works a Sixties look — white go-go boots and all — and plays the part of a public secretary, tapping in the messages people dictate to her on her portable, manual typewriter. She keeps carbon copies of all the messages which she plans to use in an online and offline exhibit later. In this digital age, postcards remain an obvious yet genius means to express yourself.

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