During the final week of school in the Spring of 2007, I photographed each of my students individually. I sat them in a chair in front of a door with a photograph of a light bulb over their heads. The camera was on a tripod, with the intention of its postition remaining absolutely constant. The plan was to have each of their heads in exactly the same position within the frame. I told them I would then use a computer to layer all the images, one on top of the other, to create one single student who was the sum of all of them. They seemed amused by the idea, possibly slightly confused.
This image contains all of my students.
The light bulb was there to represent the ideas that do and will come from these people as a whole. I think that all of our thoughts are interconnected. Our thoughts and ideas are a byproduct of the thoughts that are around us, that we are exposed to and taught. Combining this attention to idea generation with the youth of the subject also leads to thoughts of the future, and the potential these students have.
As I started putting them together in PhotoShop, the images did not line up the way I had hoped. The light bulb pasted to the door behind them didn't look very good either so I decided to cut out their heads one at a time. I then photographed a light bulb and edited it in.
I also noticed that the person that was emerging was neither female nor male. I hadn't been thinking about gender in anyway, but started to realize that it was unavoidable. So I decided to make two more images, one with just the male students and one with just the females.
This image is all of my female students.
This image is all of my male students.
A few years back I emailed a variety of friends, family, and students asking them if they would share with me where they think ideas come from, or how they think they come up with ideas. I collected and organized their responses and posted them here.
Two influences on my ideas for these projects were Do-Ho Suh and Don Celender. Do-Ho Suh was featured in the Art 21 series and has made some art about identity and the individual versus the collective. He did one where he layered all the students in his high school class year book to create a class portrait. Don Celender was a professor at Macalester who died recently. He was well known in the art world for his conceptual mail/ survey art projects. He would mail people (usually famous artists) questions or assignments and present their responses as his art.