January 26, I’m conducting a workshop at the ICA Boston, and you can participate even if you’re not there. All you need is a camera. Here’s what you have to do.
First, take a picture of yourself as yourself - a portrait. Give a little bit of thought to this. How do you look when you’re yourself? How do you stand? What kind of expression do you make? Are you holding anything? This is me:
Next: take a picture of yourself as not yourself. Interpret this as you like. Maybe it means you make a facial expression you never make. Maybe instead of being shy, you’re outgoing. Maybe you wear a costume. Maybe you act like you’re a cat taking a bath - and you’re not even a cat person. This step was tricky for me, because among other things I’m an actor, and wearing costumes and acting like other people is something I do as myself. I did what I could to seem like a regular person who just happens to not be me.
Third, take a picture that is halfway in between the photo of yourself and the photo of not yourself. Here’s what I did:
Ok, now this is the important part: Of the three photos you took, which one do you think is the most art? Clearly, some pictures are more art than other pictures, or they’d all be in the museum. Is the picture of yourself as yourself the most art because it’s the most true, or the least art because you might post it as a snapshot on facebook? Is the picture of not yourself the most art because it involved acting, or the least art because it relies on the audience understanding it’s not you, which is external to the picture? Does the halfway-in-between picture make a nice compromise between the constructed nature of art and the truth-seeking mission of art, or is it the worst of all because it looks like a picture that tried to be one thing or the other and failed? Or do you just like the one that looks pretty?
I’m going to cheat and not tell you my answer, although I know what it is for this set of pictures. I’m not sure it’s the answer for all sets of pictures, or that I would give the same answer if I did the experiment again.
Feel free to share these instructions and these photos. If you join in, use the tag #TheMostArt