Students joke about teachers having eyes in the back of their heads. For Wafaa Bilal, a New York University photography professor, this isn’t a simple jest. And while he doesn’t have a literal eye in the back of his skull, he instead installed a functioning camera.
The impetus for this bizarre act stems not only from Bilal’s love of photography but also his contribution to a project he is working on for the Quatar Arab Museum of Modern Art. The idea behind this project, which Bilal calls “The 3rd I,” is that the camera implanted in the back of his head will take a single snapshot every minute for a year, and upload the images in real-time to a display within the “Told/Untold/Retold” exhibit at the museum.
“I wanted to lose that subjectivity [of knowingly taking photographs],” Bilal said. “At the same time I wanted to capture everyday mundane images.”
Aside from just art purposes, the real underlying motive for this project is political, bringing awareness to the role surveillance is playing in our daily lives.
“This will expose the unspoken conditions we face,” Bilal said Thursday. “A project like this is meant to establish a dialogue about surveillance.”
And to take this project one step further, the camera not only streams real-time snapshots of everything Bilal is doing, it is also connected to a real-time GPS tracker that uploads his location along with the footage to the Web.
To check up on Bilal, what he is up to and where he is, click here.