Project / Readymade Roulette

Tagline/Mantra / Beauty is the beholder

Process / Images of individuals are photographed from online video chat websites using the “screenshot” function. The screenshot is then cropped down to it's final portrait presentation. In this manner the project may be considered a digital version of paraphotography or camera-less photography.

 screenshot before cropping

screenshot before cropping

 post cropping

post cropping

Intention/Concept / The idea begins with the fact that when we go online to video chat with someone, we naturally want to look our best. We may angle ourselves to show our good side, choose an interesting background, adjust the lighting and so on. In this way we are like an artist creating a composition of ourselves to present to the public. With each individual doing all the work beforehand their final appearance, on my end, becomes the perfect readymade portrait—all set to be extracted and recontextualized in a process of appropriation.

Meaning / The Readymade Roulette project aims to highlight the often overlooked fact that everyday we are all creating ourselves as works of art—the way we dress, style our hair, walk, talk, take care of our health, interact with others—we are the creators of ourselves and life is a form of art. Besides just the sheer formal beauty of some of the portraits, the more important message being conveyed is that the individuals being photographed are actually the artist themselves. They are the ones who create the composition on their own and I just push a button when I see something I like. My role in the project then is more as a curator rather than artist.

We've seen art progress from the creations of Renaissance artists being dictated by wealthy patrons, to Modern artist having freedom to express their own sentiments. In contemporary art, artists now take into consideration the relationship between art object and viewer (Relational Aesthetics). But what of the relationship between art object and artist, as in, what happens when the artist becomes the art object themselves? What of the relationship between art object, artist and viewer—when the artist simultaneously becomes the viewer and/or the object?

Blurring the lines between art object, artist and viewer creates a form of art I call the Art Per Se or art in-itself. We've seen the beginnings of these kinds of reflections at work when an artist paints a self-portrait or in dance and performance art, Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present being one of the best examples of this kind of art form. We all have innate creative powers and the Readymade Roulette project hopes to inspire individuals to use these powers more often and with regard to more of the everyday actions we undertake.

Favorite Aspects / What I like about this project is the element of chance—it really is a game of Russian roulette played with images instead of guns. Most images that come up on the video chat are pornographic or just of average aesthetic qualities, but then every once in a while, an image “pops”. I have to be quick on my screenshot “trigger” because a lot of people will simply hit their ‘next’ button and disappear before I can capture the image. Every once in awhile I actually meet someone and have a good conversation or make a new friend as well—this is always a plus.