In this ongoing project I'm producing a self-portrait through the assemblage of several videos of myself in a single moving image. The purpose is to compose an individual portrait out of several fragments of video recordings that are played simultaneously. Each video recording is made with a camera phone by different people in different places and moments. The resulting moving image is made up in real-time through the cut and paste of vertical fragments of each video. This process shares conceptual and visual elements with the early constructivist photomontage.
This (self-)portrait is an agglomeration of videos made at different moments and places within one single frame. This (self-)portrait pursues the interruption of the machine of faciality. This is reached through the fragmentation of my image. The main aspect that contributes to the interruption is the fragmented visual aspect of the portrait. In this portrait the frame is divided into several parts, each with its own time and space. Another aspect that contributes to the interruption is the making of the portrait because the author is diluted into a crowd. There is no one portraitist but many, as each video is made by a different person whose work is regulated through a visual pattern. The fragmented composition brings together various separated selves and places them next to each other. Thus, the interruption is fulfilled when all fragments are played simultaneously within the same frame.
The final (self-)portrait will be made up of several videos each of 1px width. The amount of videos needed to complete this (self-)portrait corresponds to the maximum width-resolution the camera phone in use provides: 640px. And by the time of this website there are 80 videos recorded.
Video is a medium primary concerned with time. This medium fixates time into a series of independent recordings that we watch in rectangular frames. Almost always the space of the frame is filled with one image that presents one time and one space. Although video fragments time, the visual frame keeps in each recording a unified time and space. The camera can only record a sequential flow of time; it cannot record several, non-sequential moments of time simultaneously. The assemblage of different times within the frame occurs always in the montage. In my work this is not different. Each time a different person records one minute of video of myself. In the final composition, a real-time montage, I agglomerate and play all these recordings simultaneously within the same frame. Each recording is cropped to a few pixels wide and placed next to another recording. This montage produces a moving image that is composed of several other moving images. The frame is thus fragmented into several columns and each is filled with a different video. The fragmentation of time that video produces is here carried inside the very frame. The manipulation I propose has a spatial character. Such a procedure is only possible in digital video because the digital allows the complete programming of the image and each pixel is susceptible to manipulation.
This fragmentation is taken to the production too. Each video recording is made by a different person using a camera phone. I've established a general set-up to regulate the visual aspect of the image and each portraitist should comply with it. The work of each portraitist is regulated through a visual pattern similar to biometric face photographs, that is externally assembled to the camera phone. In this form of production the raw material is produced by the work of a crowd. In my (self-)portrait there are as many portraitist as videos. The authorship is shared by many and I act as a catalyst for the making of the video portrait. My role as an artist is to provide the conditions for the production. Expressed mathematically, each column of my portrait is a function of one independent variable: you multiplied by a constant: me.
f(you X me)