He was enjoying the current exhibition titled Memery: Imitation, Memory, and Internet Culture, when he took a closer look at this piece, only to see my face! Crazy–I had no idea that I was part of this work by Penelope Umbrico: People with Suns from Flickr!
It all started with Umbrico’s Suns from Flickr that I had helped to install in 2009 at SFMoMA. The piece is made up of hundreds of 4×6 chromogenic prints that were stuck to the wall in a grid pattern. To create it, Umbrico searched the term ‘sun’ in Flickr and appropriated a cropped version of each one she found, changing the title of the piece each time more suns were added to Flickr. After the completed installation at SFMoMA, I asked my supervisor, conservator Theresa Andrews, to take a photograph of me in front of the suns for my portfolio (as seen above). To make a long story short, the photo ended up on an advertisement for a talk I was giving and…voila, I was readily available for Umbrico to include in her latest work.
For People, Umrbico again scoured Flickr, as well as other search engines, this time for tags of her original piece. About 15 (including mine, not from Flickr) were then framed and mounted on the wall in a horizontal line. From reading various reviews of the show and interviews with the artist, it sounds like Umbrico wanted to feature people standing in from of Suns as if they were being photographed in front of an actual sunrise or sunset, facing forward and posing for the camera. Had I known this would happen, I probably would have at least taken off my badge…oh well, it’s still pretty exciting to have personally contributed to contemporary art.
I hope to make it to MA sometime to see the show before it closes next spring. If you happen to go, you’ll probably see me there!