The One-Year Performance
Remember that guy who took a picture of himself every day? At the end of weeks, months, years, emerged a time-lapsed self-portrait hypnotizing to watch — for the subtle changes in hair, lighting, expression but mostly for the sameness of it all.
In the early days, a guy could grab headlines with this kind of crazy project. There was even a family who did it collectively. This “found art” series told a story about life, love and death, in Polaroids.
And now, the Daily Mugshot is a free, new web app that democratizes the process for all, complete with auto-animations and widgets. The circle is complete.
Starting in 1978, Hsieh performed a series of durational performance pieces… which I believe paved the way for common mass market books to break out in later decades, fueled entirely by the fact that the author did one thing for a whole year.
(Check out blogger Rex Sorgatz’s a.k.a Fimoculous’ list of “My Year As…” an Amazon list of books about the guy who read the entire Oxford English Dictionary for a year, or the guy who was on the competitive eating circuit for a year, Joan Didion’s year of magical thinking, et al.)
Wikipedia describes the performance that accompanies the photo above:
One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece)
For one year between April 11, 1980 through April 11, 1981, Hsieh punched a time clock every hour on the hour for one year. Each time he punched the clock, he took a single picture of himself, which together yield a 6 minute movie. He shaved his head before the piece, so his growing hair reflects the passage of time. Documentation of this piece was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2009, using film, punch cards and photographs.
Excellent video to accompany this piece here at the Gugg website: The Third Mind – American Artists Contemplate Asia.
My favorite performance of Hsieh’s, based on description alone:
One Year Performance 1985–1986 (No Art Piece)
For one year, Hsieh did no art, spoke no art, saw no art, read no art, and did not enter any museum or gallery. He just went about life for one year.
Life: just go about it, folks…