Shoe Field

Shoe-Field (1982-1989), one of Rapoport’s most prescient interactive computer-based projects, adopted the methodologies of scientific research to analyze emotional states. During “participation performances,” viewers were asked how they felt about the shoes they were wearing. The resulting data was visualized via a computer program originally used by physicists to plot electrical fields.

Sonya Rapoport, “Shoe-Field”, documentation of installation at Media Gallery, San Francisco, 1986. Photo by Marion Gray.

Shoe-Field sought to understand people via their shoe selections. The original piece invited the audience to talk about how their shoes made them feel, then a computer created a numerical data visualization based on their responses. 

Iterations of this project were exhibited in 1982 (A Shoe-In at Berkeley Computer Systems, Berkeley), 1986 (Shoe-Field at Media Gallery, San Francisco, and 1989 at Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA, as well as at Rapoport’s retrospective exhibition “Spaces of Life” at Kala Art Institute in 2011. She also produced blog art, artist’s books and magazine articles related to Shoe-Field.

Sonya Rapoport, Shoe-Field
Sonya Rapoport, documentation of “A Shoe-In.” Berkeley Computer Systems, 1982. Polaroid photography by Tom Bates.
Sonya Rapoport, “Shoe-Field Digital Artist’s Book”, 1989. Floppy disk, printed card stock, color photocopies, and acetate in folder (gold shoe, shoe horn, and printed tile are related items but not part of artist book).


A selection of primary source documents originally selected by Sonya Rapoport that relate to Shoe-Field can be downloaded here: pdf, 25.2MB.