2009-2010. Gustavo Romano. TIME NOTES: MOBILE OFFICE (2009.12 / fieldwork)



For the mobile office we need a young man and a woman, preferably from Madrid, or not to be identified by their foreign accent.

The ideal profile is a jovial person, who enjoys dealing with people, but knows how to listen and lets others speak, someone who understands that the protagonist is the interviewed and not he.

The profile to avoid is someone who is afraid to interact with strangers, an irascible person or someone who is always joking.

For the main office of Casa de America, the gender is irrelevant and it’s not important if they know how to approach people, for, in this case, people will come to the office by their own will.


The mobile office will drive around for 4 hours 5 days a week. We should specify when, but for now I think that from Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 3pm would be fine, but I am open to suggestions.

For 3 or 4 hours the main office can function in Casa de America (the rest of the time it would work as a space). In that case the opening hours will depend on Casa de America.

Two actors will make use of the mobile office.

The planned fees for actors are a total of 2000 euros.

I will be in the mobile office at times, sometimes in the main one.


For those who work in the mobile office, they will daily have to drive a “bike-cart” and then bring it back to Casa de America.

They will have to stop at specific locations and start offering their service of Reimbursement of wasted time and Loans.

In order to do this I will personally explain the operation in detail, but in general, it consists of asking people about their wasted time or what they would do if they had extra time, give them the corresponding bills and upload the information on the computer.


1- Even the most unusual reasons are welcome. The main role is to collect reasons for wasted time. When a person arrives at the “office”, the actor says this, more or less:
“In this office we offer different services, for example, the reimbursement of wasted time. You tell us how you lost your time, due to a bad decision, or something that you had to do without wanting to, and we will give it back to you with our notes. We have 1 minute, 1 day, 1 year,…”

2- Don’t try to force any specific reason. If the person is confused or has doubts and you want to avoid uncomfortable silence, it’s better to ask some open questions instead of helping them with suggestions.
For example, you can say… “Don’t you ever waste time? Are you sure?” Or ask something about the person… “Do you work, or do you study?” Or you can say… “Take your time, there’s no hurry”.
If the person doesn’t have anything in mind, as a last resource, you can ask him some general information…. “You’re so lucky. Are you happy with your job? Do you always do what you want?”, etc.

3- Avoid the word Art. In my experience, if they become aware that this is an art project… people get disappointed (me too).
No one thinks that this situation is for real, but everyone wants to think that it’s true. Everyone enjoys the illusion, and they want to play the game. But if you use the word “art”… the game is over.

Anyhow, as it is a weird situation, people will ask: “What is this? What is it for? Who are you?”.
I recommend three strategies.
First. Try not to answer, avoid the question. You can try and answer with a question. “What might you use it for? How could it be useful? How would you use it?”
Secondly, you could say, “this is a new financial system, and once it becomes global, you’ll be able to pay with these notes, because time is money”. Or… “we are trying to substitute our currencies with this one”, “we are spreading the idea of replacing this money with this”…
In the third place, if the person is a real drag, one can say… “I am working for the Time Notes Corporation. Here you can see the website. You can check it out and find out more about it. I really don’t know much more than what I’ve already told you”.
And of course, if the situation turns very uncomfortable… you can finish the game by saying:
“Ok this is an art project, bla, bla, bla…”

4- Try to make people talk. Don’t try to impose our ideas. Listen. Ask and re-ask. Try to make people give richer information, not only a short version. Request more information: where, when, why…
5- Don’t get depressed if you didn’t do it too well with one person. More shall come. Each person is a whole different and independent story (and didn’t listen to what happened previously). The main idea is this should never become a job. It must be fun and playful for everyone. For the public and also for the actors.
6- Go to the website and check some examples, some of the reasons that people gave at the office.

Here is a video from the previous action:

(December 2009)