Banksy and the art of changing the frame

A screen-grab from a video posted on Banksy's New York Web site. (YouTube) The artwork has appeared on walls in the Big Apple -- and reportedly been painted over. It has rolled down the street on a truck, and according to the artist's Web site, it has been sold for $60 a piece by a street vendor near Central Park. That last one is a shocker when you consider Banksy's work has sold for amounts blowing past $1 million. You can watch the street-side sale go down here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX54DIpacNE

The video appeared on the artist's Web site in October during Banksy's New York residency, lending it some credence. The person selling the pieces offers a hug to one buyer and a kiss to another. One customer is seen walking away with four pieces (he claimed to, according to the video, need something to put on his walls), while another buyer was able to negotiate a 50-percent discount on the $60 price tag. In total, Banksy made $420 for the entire day, according to the Web site. Gothamist reports that, if the art is verified by Banksy's agent, the pieces could be worth "tens of thousands of dollars." Banksy concluded the New York residency at the end of the month.

The art at the street-side sale may not have been framed, but the experience is an interesting exercise in framing. How you frame something -- an experience, an emotion or a problem -- determines in large part how you think and act in respect to that thing. This can extend to how you approach the day -- grumpy, happy, sad, anxious, curious. It's likely you're going through the day with a cocktail of these emotions.

Framing is everything.

Here at the d, we jump up and down and laugh in groups.

I can hear you asking where the *&^% is she going with this? Bear with me. If you were to come across a room of otherwise sane adults jumping up and down and laughing a tinny, contrived laugh, you'd probably question the use of the word "sane" in this sentence. The exercise looks ridiculous out of context. That's because it is. But that's also, in part, why it works.

Here's where framing comes into play. Let's say you're called on to take part in the exercise -- commonly referred to as a "stoke" here at the d.school. You may launch into the exercise feeling absolutely rotten, and when you first begin jumping up and down while trying to cough out a laugh you may feel even worse. But, if you give the activity even a sliver of a chance, your attitude will start to change.

The mere act of laughing -- or anything approaching it -- and hearing other people do it with you while you jump up and down like a four-year old at the peak of a sugar high ... well, it changes things. It puts a new frame on the place you're in both externally and internally. It changes the frame around the people you're with. The sound of other people laughing in concert, no matter how forced, frames the act of jumping up and down as jubilant. That, in turn, frames your awareness of the space, and before you know it you're doing more than forcing air out of your lungs -- you're genuinely laughing.

There's a science to laughter, and it's far more complex than just bouncing up and down in a classroom and reframing one moment in an otherwise hectic day. The public radio show "To The Point" has a collection of videos on laughter as well as a 2012 interview with University of Maryland professor Robert Provine, who also wrote "Laughter: A Scientific Investigation." Besides being well worth a listen, the interview shows that this piece is by no means an exhaustive exploration of neuroscience as it relates to laughter and group behavior.

It's merely to say this: the ability to reframe your environment, both inside and out -- to change your outlook at will -- is powerful. It's art.