Art as Ethnography as Art

May 22, 2011

This is close in concept to the Someday Your Memories will be Art post and has been a long time in coming because it’s been hard to find people to give disposable cameras to.  So where before it’s found negatives that are transformed into art material what I’m doing with the images below is using other people’s experience of the world as a framework for making work.

The Night Out project consists of me handing off a 27-exposure disposable camera to a stranger, having them document a night out, and developing the film and scanning the index print in order to make it a large print that shows in reverse chronological order the “night” that the cameraperson witnessed and participated in.  So far I’ve only gotten back two, just this weekend; finding agreeable strangers is hard.

Working on the prints though there’s a level of voyeurism there that I hadn’t anticipated.  I’m still wondering “why did this person take that photo” but I’m also digging for narrative meaning in single images embedded in the grid, whether they’re so murky they don’t resolve into much or whether they seem jarring, as if they were snapshots that couldn’t have been taken.

The grids are below followed by two closeups that I think are pretty striking; overall I’m happy with the project and excited to see where it will lead, if I can find more strangers.

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