Last week on YouTube I stumbled across this remarkable three-minute video piece. The filmmaker, Ahree Lee, took a picture of herself in the same pose, before the same white wall, with the same neutral facial expression, every day for three years. In 2004, she strung the images together and compressed each one into a fraction of a second to make the video. It’s a remarkable piece, a simple idea that took a lot of follow-through and discipline to make real.
Watching it, we see hairstyles and glasses come and go, while the artist’s face remains fundamentally the same. The film got me thinking about personal media, and how it can be visual as well as text-based. I’m a writer, and when I think ‘autobiography,’ I
immediately think of something that’s written. But visual self-portraiture has existed as a genre for hundreds if not thousands of years. Ahree Lee’s work is unique because it exemplifies the possibilities that new technologies have opened up for the artistic expression and presentation of the self. And it’s interesting because it’s spread out over time, as opposed to the static, snapshot-like representation that ’self-portrait’ first brings to mind.
In a way, Ahree Lee’s video reminds me of Chuck Close’s oeuvre. And it got me wondering: does anyone know of other examples of self-portraiture that deal with the passage of time?