Imagine finding some writings or drawings that you had done ten years earlier. At the time that you made them you had no thoughts about publishing or exhibiting the work, but now much later you see value in considering them differently, so you go about formalizing the work for the public to be able to experience the drawing or writings. Similarly, you might have gone through a hard experience at an earlier time in your life that later on you were able to see as educationally valuable, so in your mind you reframe the experience from negative to positive retroactively and you tell people about that change in perspective.

What if you used that retroactive claiming/framing approach to non-material forms of art? You could at any moment go back in time to earlier activities you did and reframe them as artworks, even though at the time you didn’t think of them as art. The possible activities and experiences are endless, but for example let’s just say you walked to work for a week instead of driving a couple of years earlier and still recall that you enjoyed the chance to get some exercise while noticing things that you didn’t see while in a car and had a few unexpected interactions with people along the ways that were interesting as well. You could take that experience and retroactively claim it as an artwork and reframe it by giving it a title, date, location, description and potentially documentation that could be from that time if you happened to take a photo as you walked or through re-constructing the activity by taking a photo now that represented the earlier activity or by making a drawing, re-performing the activity publicly, etc. though documentation (other than a title etc.) of the retroactive project isn’t actually necessary. You could then add that “project” to your resume and website, create publications based on retroactively claimed works, talk about them in lectures, and apply for funding to retroactively reframe more projects or work with others to select and formalize their own retroactive artworks. I can imagine sceptics saying that without initial intention the past activities can’t be reframed as art, but why should we be concerned about when the activities happened, eventually everything becomes a part of the past, and there is still intention it’s just intention to retroactively reframe rather than intention to do something at a future point.

Another variation on this idea is to think about all of the email writing that you have done in the past not as writing emails, but simply as writing, in which case most of us would have already written enough for several books. It’s a way of valuing what you have already done in ways that you may not have previously done, and through that process it might also make you appreciate what you are currently doing or going to do in the future in a different way.