A few days ago, I stumbled upon the most amazing site: Jamie Livingston, an artist, filmmaker and New York City resident, took a Polaroid of his life. Every day. For 20 years.
They’ve been scanned and collected to form a massive art project, and now are located online, at Some Photos of That Day.
As individuals, we each live every minute of every day of our lives.
And as individuals, we’re the only people who can claim that. Our friends may spend a lot of time with us. Our parents and partners and children may be present nearly every moment of our lives. But no one is there, every minute – hell, even every day – to live your life with you. Just you. You’re the only one.
So to see a day by day account of someone’s life is fascinating. More than that, it’s amazing, to be given such access, to visualize even a small part of every day of a person’s life.
With Jamie Livingston, we see more than just friends and mundane life. We see everything. We see life as it was viewed by Jamie, his accomplishments, his failures. We see him battle cancer. And we see him die.
There is a great write-up on Mental Floss with a good sprinkling of the highlights of the set. Go there first.
Once you’ve taken a look at that, and once you have a good grip of the generalities, start near the end. On May 1st, 1997. His face, spotted with dots; some kind of medical marking for a test.
Then, continue through the end. Until the very end. October 25th, 1997.
I had just turned 18 the day before. My grandparents were celebrating their wedding anniversary. And Jamie Livingston, someone I have never met, someone whose life I only know through 10 years of Polaroids, died.
You can have your “picture a day for four years” memes and YouTube videos. You can have “365 different beards.”
This is more. This is a life. Captured for all of us. As art. And as a symbol of an artist who, through the wonders of captured images, still lives on today.