This is a post I've been looking forward to for a while. One year ago I traveled to Jerusalem on Valentine's Day to help film a dance protest organized by One Billion Rising, a campaign fighting violence against women. A recently released TED talk had given me an idea for a project that turned into both my longest-running video project to date as well as the most labor-intensive Valentine's Day gift I ever gave. The TED talk, given by Cesar Kuriyama, presented his project of capturing and compiling one second of video every day of his life starting on his 30th birthday. For my interpretation of this concept, I decided to use my one second of video each day to share the moments of my life that, while making up a sizable portion of my daily life, painted a picture of the life that my wife didn't see when she was occupied with med school-related activities. As someone who works heavily in photography and video I carry a point-and-shoot camera with me at all times and throughout my day I began to think about all the little details of life that fill in the spaces between significant events. I thought about it like a painting in as much as a truly great portrait painting requires that the care and detail given to the folds of the fabric matches the care and detail given to the eyes. A video clip of the local corner store was just as important to telling the story of my life as a clip from some fascinating video project I was working on.
I made a conscious effort not to create an artificial narrative by planning ways to link clips together from day to day. I tried to let each clip be a reflection of that day, whether it was particularly exciting or not. Each day I would usually end up taking a handful of clips and at the end of the week I would go through each day, pick a video and add it to the monthly folders of daily clips. Once a month or so I would take all the new selected clips, bring them into Adobe Premiere, pare them each down to one selected second and add them to a growing timeline.
In the same way that life weaves its own random narrative using whatever events with which we fill our days, I was fascinated to see how quickly a natural story began to emerge. It was also incredibly liberating knowing that this narrative demanded no oversight, no creative direction, no editorial restrictions and no quality controls. Regardless of who eventually saw the final product, this was a video made for an audience of one. I had to struggle at times to maintain such a thorough process of documentation while at the same time keeping my activities a secret from my wife. Many of the clips I captured, especially of the mundane moments of our life together begged the question, "Why are you recording this?"
As the months passed by and remembering to shoot video clips became a habit I began to realize that, like practicing an instrument, I was going through the process of identifying artistic and appealing subject matter and composing a visual scene every single day. As I continued to exercise this muscle, I began to see the effects of this exercise in my video work for clients. A significant chunk of my jobs involve the free-form documentation of events as they unfolded without much direction from the client. My job in this case isn't to create content but rather to use the camera as a tool to elevate what's going on around me to the level of something visually appealing or artistic. By capturing these little clips every day I was practicing that same art; elevating the subject matter ever so slightly. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't and among 365 clips there are plenty of shots that are neither particularly compelling nor artistic.
What they do accomplish is the role of small links in a chain. In Cesar Kuriyama's talk, he said that his motivation for starting his own project was to prevent himself forgetting the little moments that make each day special. Even just seeing a second of video was enough to jog his memory and make sure the things that made him smile, laugh or cry each day didn't get lost in the cobwebs of memory. I can relate to this and now that the first year is over, I have no intention of bringing this habit to an end.
As always, enjoy the video. I know my wife did.