All art is introspective – or so it is said – but a New York University photography professor is taking the idea of turning the lens around on himself to a literal extreme. Assistant professor Wafaa Bilal is implanting a camera in the back of his head as part of a project commissioned by a new museum in Qatar. Cue the teacher-with-eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head jokes.
Bilal will undergo surgery to have the camera implanted in coming weeks (the camera itself will actually be affixed to a piercing-like attachment) and will wear his camera for a year as it snaps still pictures at one-minute intervals, beaming them live to the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar for visitors to observe. The artwork, titled “The 3rd I,” is intended as “a comment on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and experience.” So says the museum, anyhow.
Naturally, this opens up all kinds of privacy issues with regard to Bilal’s students and their rights in the classroom, and the university is sorting through those right now. But frankly, the cyborg-esque nature of the project is undeniably cool, and that’s really the only thing separating this from those “life-blogging” cameras some people hand around their necks to capture the minutiae of their daily existences. That, and 180 degrees.