A Self Portrait
My solution for this project was to develop an interactive self-portrait. The materials used in this composition consist of four PNG files that are dynamically loaded into an Adobe® Flash file, which is called by an HTML file. The PNG files are each images I have chosen to represent various aspects of my sense of self: (from top-left, clockwise) son, brother, husband, and father.
Viewers of the composition mouse over the collaged grid of images to reveal a larger part of each image. To view the entire source image, viewers must click on a particular image. An additional click restores the image to its original place in the collage. This iteration of the composition is still a prototype, and does not yet include these instructions for the viewer.
The first three images provide evidence of being deliberate attempts at portraiture. The fourth image, me as a father, is a snap shot of my daughter, Lily, and me. The fact that this is a snap shot is due in large part to her strong preference for freedom of action.
Although my becoming a brother and a son occurred simultaneously, I have chosen to represent my early years with a portrait with my older brother and younger sister. This decision was mostly pragmatic, because if I wanted to feature all three siblings, my choice of time period was limited to the few months my sister was alive. In turn, I chose to represent my role as a son with my high school senior photo. I thought this was appropriate based on how it fit chronologically with my passage into adulthood. The third photo is of my wife, Laurel, and me on our wedding day. Undeniably, this was another moment of passage. Finally, I chose a recent image of Lily and me to represent my current role as father. This was the most difficult selection, as Lily is our second daughter. My wife and I lost our first daughter, Julia, to complications surrounding her cancer treatment almost three years ago.
On a cosmic level, I believe the chronological aspect of these images portray the very impersonal process of aging. In that way, a dominant theme of the composition could be interpreted as impermanence. On cultural level, the images also represent several key archetypal roles. In that way, they can be said to show one man's passage from childhood to adulthood. Finally, on a personal level, the images show four moments of my life, some I remember like they were yesterday, some I don't remember at all. In that way, they function as one more weak thread in the vast historical quilt, a garment never made up of the things themselves, but only incomplete whispers and shadows of things that once were.