- William Saroyan
It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.
- Oscar Wilde, 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
-Jack Nicholson, from Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of 'The Shining'
Every Day* is an ongoing visual document involving self-portraiture, in it's most literal sense, performed within a set of guidelines. Since February 23rd, 1987, I have, on a daily basis, made a photograph of my face. Reserved exclusively for this procedure are a single camera, tripod, strobe and white backdrop. A small, additional tripod and backdrop make the setup portable; it goes with me when I travel. I use the same type of high-resolution film (Kodak Technical Pan until it was discontinued in 2007, Ilford Pan F since then) and the same strobe lighting. The camera is always set and focused at the same distance. When taking the picture, I try to center myself in the frame, maintain a neutral expression and look straight into the lens.
It is important to me that each day's image be no more nor less than a reasonably detailed visual record of the subjectʼs presence. I have made a conscious choice to avoid odd framing, engaging composition, unusual lighting or any other strategy that would favor the photograph at the expense of the subject. Similarly, I try to minimize expression and/or visual indicators of mood or personality. In essence, my attempt has been to standardize the technical and logistic aspects of this procedure to the extent that only one variable remains: whatever change may occur in my face and flesh, measured obsessively and incrementally by the day, for the rest of my life.
The impulse for this work originates in the vectors of curiosity and distress tied to four factors affecting my life:
2) Incremental change.
3) Obsession (its relation to both the psyche and art-making)
4) The difference between attempting to be Perfect, and being human. Much as I try to make each day's image a clone of its neighbors, there is always a difference. Sometimes the discrepancy is subtle, sometimes it is hilariously gross. Failure is a foregone conclusion. Life gets in the way. Mistakes are part of the project, and part of the process.
The nature of Every Day presumes it to be a work in progress. The form of its presentation varies, depending on space and circumstance. As much as sameness is important in the making of each day's image, difference becomes an issue when the images are shown collectively, as a body of work. So far, my aim has been to change the way the work is presented, to vary the interface, as it were, for each new venue.
* From 1995, when it was first shown publicly, through 1997, this project was exhibited as Daily Self-Portraits. The title was changed to Every Day in 1998.
Shown below are installation views, descriptive text and ephemera listing the various occasions when Every Day has been exhibited. Click on images to enlarge.