As an artist, I saw the potential in cell phone cameras for individuals to directly interact with an artist. The technology could enable me to make a photograph specifically for a stranger anywhere in the world and email it to them almost instantly, bridging time and distance between image creation and image consumption. But why would anyone call me for a photograph? In 2006, I began a project loosely based on fortune telling where I presented myself as an oracle and artist who would take photographs for callers that, theoretically, answer their personal question.
Here’s how it works. Someone calls my cell phone. Initially, they do not tell me their question, I simply note their email address. We hang up. Then, wherever I happen to be at the time of their call, I make three photographs and email to the caller. They reply back to me, revealing their question. I pair the text with the images and post on my blog. The concept is that they have to examine the images, assigning symbolic meaning to banal objects and actions, to find their answer.
The idea of “fortune telling” with a cell phone has broad appeal and so attracts people who usually are not involved with the arts. The majority of the callers are strangers to me and often calls originate from areas outside the United Sates, mainly Europe and the Caribbean.
The interaction is just the beginning of the process. There is a second stage to the project that focuses on the interpretation of the readings – an experiment in how text and context affects the perceived meaning of images. By pairing the text next to images, each question begs an answer to the question it poses and once read, viewers can no longer interpret the images outside the context of the text. However, the meaning each person arrives at is entirely subjective, dependent on their personal experience and prejudices, so each combination has an endless number of possible narratives.
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