Exercise: Following the Hourly Comic format, pick one day of the week and document every hour of it. Documentation might be done with drawing, photography, collage, sound, text, or any combination thereof. At the end of the hour, take a moment to reflect upon what happened.
One day several years ago when I was feeling particularly ambitious about record-keeping and preserving my own memories, I purchased a Keel’s Simple Diary from the Taschen store on Green Street. I had never been particularly good at following through with diary-keeping and, despite the “simple prompt” format of the Keel’s diary, this was no exception. After approximately three months of fastidious diary entry, the exercise lost its luster and I was done.
For the purpose of this exercise, I decided to resurrect my long-forgotten diary for a more frequent experience. My Hourly Comic would record the following:
- A page of prompts (normally meant to summarize a whole day) from my new old Keel’s diary.
- An answer to the question, “If you had to define your hour by one color, what would that color be?
- Two photos; one taken of myself, and one taken of whatever was directly in front of me.
Below is a complete (ie, fulfills the above criteria) record of my waking hours on Wednesday, January 25th 2017.
EGO The most prominent finding, I’m embarrassed to admit, was that I absolutely made decisions based on the fact that I’d be documenting them. I’m not saying that my behavior changed completely -all of my actions were essentially predetermined outside of the exercise- but if I needed that extra push to go to the gym, knowing that I would be displaying my life to at least three of my classmates was enough to push me to not go home and be a lazy fuck and watch Netflix on my couch while chowing down on Cheetos or some other delicious thing I’m not supposed to like.
VANITY Most days aren’t dress and lipstick days for me. At least not anymore. Incidentally a day that I knew I’d be photographing myself I made damn sure I had makeup on.
EYEBROWS But seriously, what’s happening with my eyebrows.
SHAME Or, lack thereof. There was essentially no situation in which I wasn’t comfortable taking a photo of myself or what was in front of me. Even the ladies locker room at Equinox. Even at a protest that was about something much more important than my need for a selfie. I’m interested in what this says about the roll technology has taken in our life, and how it has whittled away at “appropriate behavior.” Talking to no one in particular while walking down the street is strange, until you get close enough to that “strange” person to realize they have a headset in and are talking wirelessly on their phone. Walking down the street with a “thumb in [your] mouth”, as Roger Schank notes in Tell Me A Story: Narrative and Intelligence is strange only until you are in a world where “everyone walks around with his thumb in his mouth”. Photographing oneself as a means of documentation; relentlessly capturing the world around us, is as un strange as we make it; increasingly less bizarre and directly proportionate with the amount of time we spend doing it. Constant narrative is the new normal, and excuses even the most shameless behavior. All you need is context.