(Click here for a larger version. Art by Gregory Bossert.)
For the “esoteric” version of these exercises, click here. Please note: Doing more than three of these exercises in a day may sprain your brain…
by Matthew Cheney
The three items numbered 1 are the most important items in the room because of a single event that they all were important to. Describe and explain this event.
One of the items near the number 2 has recently been added to the room. Which one? Why? Tell the story of this object before it entered the room.
The object on top of the bookcase looks like a sewing machine. It is not. What is it? Why is it on top of the bookcase? Tell a story about the second-to-last time the object was used by the occupant of the room.
The objects around the number 4 were all part of a single adventure. Tell the story of that adventure.
Not too long ago, there was another item in the desk drawer (#5). What was it? Why is it no longer there, but the other objects remain?
What does the room look like through the window? (#6) What can be seen that is hidden by the perspective of the picture?
Who bought those flowers yesterday? (#7) Why did they fall over? Tell a story that links the buying of the flowers to their downfall.
Whose eyes look through the microscope? (#8) What are those eyes looking at right now?
Something is hiding on the floor. (#9) What is it? How did it get there? What does it most desire?
Make a list of all of the items near even numbers. These are new objects. Make another list of items near odd numbers. These are old objects. What does the relationship between the new objects and the old objects tell us about the occupant of this room?
Choose one of the objects that contains paper and writing (a loose page, a magazine, a book). Write the contents of that object, or at least a page of it.
Tell a story about all of the aquatic creatures in the picture. How did they get to be where they are?
One object is missing from the room. What is it? What became of it?
This is not the actual room, but rather a later representation of the room created from memory. Whose memory? What did the memory distort, and why?
What is in the other desk drawers? Tell a story about those objects.
Who or what is looking through another window in the room? Why? What do they see?
There is something on the ceiling directly above the desk. What is it? Tell a story about it.
The new owner of this room has decided to renovate it and get rid of most of the objects. However, the new owner has decided to keep two of them. Which two? Why?
This looks like a room, but it is actually an installation in a museum. What is the museum? Who created the installation? Why? What do viewers think? Tell a story about one of those viewers visiting the museum.
The occupant of the room is not an occupant of the room. Explain this.