personal projects/paul's motor inn

in the spring of 2005 i checked into a roadside motel called Paul’s Motor Inn under an assumed identity with a photographer and filmmaker so that i could document a performance as a business traveler.

web-based / performance /  completed: 2005


the review as micro-narrative

Paul's Motor Inn (the project) was designed to use a hotel room stay as a performance in order to incubate the micro-narratives one often encounters when reading reviews, or looking at media, generated by past guests on social media sites and user generated content networks. 

check in and start rolling

over the course of 48 hours i worked with my small crew to shoot a large inventory of raw footage in and around the hotel, and my small room. after i checked out i created several small video vignettes, still images, and wrote a lengthy pseudo-review all featuring my business traveler character. the content items i produced mirrored the length and format of user generated Trip Advisor and Google review content. 

Standing on the balcony outside my room, the city and its lights twinkle through the haze of a late spring. It’s still cold. Voices are heard but none are distinguishable, all I can hear is the sound of a hundred TV’s, “You listen to me…” Matched with the strobe of the gray flickering light finding its way through the cracks in the thick draperies, “…and you listen good. You get the writing idea out of your head.”


excerpt from one of the project's reviews on Trip Advisor's page for Paul’s Motor Inn

user generated art

everything created for this project used Paul's Motor Inn as a source for material. things other guests were talking about in the restaurant, music playing in the bar, and the audio from a Humphrey Bogart movie playing in my room that the cameras picked up while we filmed. all of it was used in the final cuts that were given titles like the arrival, the room, the bar, and the balcony, so that the content generated could be easily uploaded and catagorized by Trip Advisor for other users to consume. 

get the writing idea out of your head

a narrative begins to emerge when the content created for my review of Paul's Motor Inn is viewed together. themes of isolation and solitude are apparent in the work, and because i used the voice of actor, Rod Steiger, saying "get the writing idea out of your head," throughout many of the vignettes i created, the business traveler featured in these short clips seems predisposed to a life in sales despite any aspirations for something more creative.       

violating trip advisor's terms

i uploaded my still images and video clips, along with a 2000 word review to Trip Advisor's page dedicated to Paul's Motor Inn where it was promptly removed because it was deemed as a fictional stay. Paul's Motor Inn exposeed the blurred lines between what is real and what is story — in context to the thousands of reviews that are written every day by the Trip Advisor community. upon viewing Paul's Motor Inn, one is confronted with the question, how much of the reviews we rely on so heavily to make decisions actually happened in the way their short narratives describe?


share under creative commons