After ten years, the net art project I AM WE_interactive image was completed at the end of February 2020. Currently a documentation is being worked on, the preface can be read here:
Inspired by reading the work of the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti and his statement „the observer is the observed“, I took a photo of a random counterpart every day from 2010 to 2011 in order to personally verify this statement. With the astonishing result that the previous view of the world: „This is me“ and „This is not me“ could no longer be maintained. As if by chance, a new series „365 Self-Portraits“ was created. Further interests were added like „Simultaneity“ and the project „Stuttgart 21“, so that I developed the concept for this work at the end of 2011. Sponsors enabled me to realize the design and programming, so that the platform went online in March 2012.
Today, ten years later, 500 people from 70 countries have uploaded 90,000 pictures in their diaries and talked about them with 300,000 comments. It was clear from the beginning that the common language had to be English, so that all nationalities could communicate as well as possible. As a side-effect, this certainly led to an improvement in English language skills, not to mention the learning effect of daily photography. But another fact was much more surprising: as in my own 365 self-portraits I myself was never in the picture, it was super rare for all participants. That is, one got to know someone quite „intimately“ without knowing what this person looks like, one „saw with the other person‘s eyes the circumstances of their life“. If an opportunity arose to get to know each other not only „virtually“ but also „personally“, one was amazed how well one already knew this person, but in a completely different way than usual. One was often surprised to know more about a „complete stranger“ than about a friend or close relative. Over the years, one has accompanied oneself in real life. There were participants who were there from the beginning and all the time, others for a few years, others for a few months, a few weeks, a few days.
From the beginning it was clear that the participants also wanted to get to know each other personally. This is how the user meetings came about, which were soon called symposia because of their demanding content. And there was always a participant who invited the group to his or her own living environment. Stuttgart, Izmir, Turku, Luxembourg, Birmingham, Heiligkreuztal, Münsingen, Obermarchtal. As the use of the internet platform was free of charge, only a small contribution was charged for the organisation of the meetings, all lectures and workshops were offered free of charge. Here friendships deepened and one could adopt new perspectives and share one‘s own with others. Always and above all, there was an art exhibition every year in which everyone could participate. A great challenge at first, since both professional and hobby artists were involved. Since I always set a theme and had a wonderful curator in Mirja, the problem solved itself, it was ultimately about authenticity, about truth, about personal expression.
While researching and collecting content for this documentation, it becomes more and more clear to me how valuable this project is.A unique community has been created, which together takes care of topics that are close to my heart. What wonderful people. You are more than worth the tremendous amount of work that goes into this. The picture on the front page shows a portrait of Jiddu Krishnamurti, calculated from these over 90,000 diary pictures of the participants. As a media artist and son of globalization, I am proud to present such a result. I AM WE.
The picture above shows the design of the front page of the catalogue (documentation) currently under construction.