AUTOPHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT:ComS 163 (optional)  10 points

This is a unique opportunity to employ a visual medium to the problem of articulating "who you are."  You possess or are developing a theory/account/explanation for what makes you the person you believe yourself to be.

Using a disposable camera (available at the bookstore), or your own camera, you will take 20 pictures that, taken together, best articulate who you believe yourself to be.

Mount the pictures on 8.5 X 11 sheets, and photocopy (You will include the photocopied pages in your portfolio).  Write a 3-5 page narrative using to photos to illustrate your theory of the self as you have portrayed it in the photos.

Be sure to ground your photographic activities and your analysis using ideas developed by Ziller in Photographing the Self, on reserve in the library.  Cite Ziller as is appropriate.

The autophotography assignment is a form of ethogenic research which should produce some new knowledge.  The task is difficult because it is difficult to suspend the natural goal/product orientation we have in order to explore the process of self-analysis.

The goal of autophotography is to discover, not confirm.  What many students do in response to this project is choose locations or objects that they say "represents" some element of the self, take a picture and caption the picture.  What we are left with is a self-confirming re-presentation of what is already known by the photographer.  The would be the same as a biologist who firmly believes, for example, that exposure to the sun does not cause cancer, goes to a beach to interview people laying in the sun and concluding that the sun does not in fact cause cancer.  Of course we see that as a silly way to proceed because it is self-confirming.

The goal of the autophotography project is for the photographer to learn something new from the photos which were taken as data, not as illustrations.  The taking of photos without conscious set up is not common practice except for professionals who are expert at "shooting their gaze"--taking candid photos of those elements in their context that get the photographer's attention.  Such photos are taken not to pose, or illustrate but capture a "description" of reality as they see it. 

By looking at the photos as data (not illustration), looking for patterns of object, or structure, or context etc, you begin to learn something about how you see and understand the world and your relationship to it.