This film explores ideal presentation of self before the camera and notions of the photographic ‘moment’. For a portrait to record a subject’s subtle state of being or ‘self’, the question of observation is raised. In the film, the moment shifts from the photographer’s idea of decisiveness to the unobserved subject’s stream of indecisive instances. The photographer makes portraits. The photographer leaves the photographed one alone with the camera for some minutes. The photographer returns. The gentle shifts in awareness of the presence and absence of the photographer raise questions relating to the essential morality of making images of people who both know they are being observed and are then unaware. Which is the true record? Is the photographer necessary – or even an impediment – to the act of photography?
The film was produced during an open studio project at Japan Foundation, Hanoi through the Skylines With Flying People art initiative – swfp.org/s/ – curated by artist Nguyen Phuong Linh and architect Tsuneo Noda in December 2012. A garage was turned into a temporary media lab that Nguyen Trinh Thi and I made into an ad hoc photo studio and screening room. Members of the general public, the other artists, our family, and numerous other visitors to the space participated in producing a photographic portrait and this session was simultaneously recorded on film. This is the result.
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