THE WINDOW PROJECT
(This was written at the end of a photo-a-day project that lasted for a month and a half. There were a number of these going on during that time (2202), and the vast majority, like mine, lasted only months. I am delighted to find that 09h09, which was my direct inspiration, is still going. I updated the link below to the current site - 2011)
The rules for this project were:
Take a picture of the rear window of the apartment every day. Timing was not specified, but most of the pictures were taken between when I woke up and went to work.
Take the picture to reflect my mood or outlook.
Such projects need to have an obsessive quality. That is the fascination. To be obsessive, there needs to be at least one rigorous condition. In most successful cases, there are at least two. The grandaddy of these projects is the photos Harvey Keitel takes in Smoke, where everything was the same day to day -- time, location of carmera, and subject matter. A currently successful project is 09h09, where the time and basic subject matter is fixed.
It helps if there are Others. In Smoke, the others are the pedestrians and cars passing through the intersection. In 09h09, the others are either explicitly there (either Jean-Michel by himself or with friend/family/co-worker), or are implied as being part of the off-camera context.
The presence of the Author and the process of setting up needs to be explicit.
My project didn't work.
It didn't have the proper obsessive rigor. There is no basis of comparison from picture to picture, day to day, based on a pre-determined structure. They are simply a collection of pictures that happen to be the same window.
After a certain point, I began to feel that the act of composing a picture that imparted my mood was contrived navel-gazing.
Also, I have become frustrated with my camera (Olympus C-3000Zoom) because what you see ain't what you get. Neither the viewfinder nor the digital display accurates represents the image that the camera captures. It's ok when I'm taking general snapshots, but when I'm going for a specific look or detail, it's a drag. A number of the window pictures are only an approximation of what I thought I was capturing.
This is what finally persuaded that my approach was flawed: this type of project requires an obsessive framework wherein the composition of the image is somewhat secondary. My project definition hinged, ultimately, on composition being critical to the meaning of the exercise. Whether this didn't work because of equipment or because of a basic flaw in the program is a question for another day.
Note: then there is the uber-obsessiveness of 12hr, where there is nothing but obsessiveness.
added 09 March 2003
A collection of annual pictures of a family.