an exhibition by Mia Semingson
39+ presents 366 images from a year-long photographic project.
“I turned thirty-nine on May 7, 2009 and I documented my 40th year of life by photographing every day. I used a “point-and-shoot” style digital camera to collect a series of snapshots to visually document and communicate the progression of this year of my life. As part of my project each day’s image references the previous day, either visually or conceptually. The project ended on my 40th birthday, May 7, 2010. The entire project can be viewed here.
Prior to my 39th birthday I had confronted myself many times with the concept of living in the present moment instead of looking to the past or the future as the present moment ticked by. I have since decided to change my thought process, to slow time down with the aid of a digital camera, and become sensitive to the present moment by literally seeing and photographing what is in front of me.
The idea of the snapshot aesthetic is often considered to be amateurish or imperfect since snapshots tend to be shot quickly or spontaneously, formally lacking artistic or journalistic intent. Eastman Kodak first introduced the concept of the snapshot in the 1900’s by putting the Brownie Box Camera into the hands of common people. Kodak marketed the camera by encouraging users to capture moments in time without being overly concerned with producing perfect imagery. “You press the button and we do the rest” is their familiar slogan.
The new digital snapshot camera continues this democratic idea of easy photography for the average consumer. According to a recent study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 77% of American households now own at least one digital camera.
The other aspect of this project that I am exploring is the idea of the “third effect.” A visual dialog occurs when one photograph is visually paired with another. Although the meanings of the individual images are preserved, a third meaning that is highly subjective shifting and enigmatic is produced. It can be compared to the relationship between mise-en-scene and montage in film. Gestalt psychologists have labeled this cognitive experience to seeing isolated parts connected to a larger whole as “closure.” I am pushing this idea by exploring what happens when the viewer is confronted with 366 “paired” images. I see this visual connection as a metaphor for life itself- a build-up of experiences over the course of a year represented by the relationship of the images I have chosen each day”.
The resulting series of images, particularly when presented in book form as they are in this installation, successfully walk the line between presenting Semingson’s personal vision and images that have universal appeal with their evocation of sensations both comfortable and familiar. Also on display is a selection of framed digital inkjet prints.
Mia Semingson works in a variety of media including photography, video, performance, sculpture, and artists’ books. She received her MFA in photography and electronic media from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She was an instructor in the department for 11 years. Currently she is the new owner of Two Hands Paperie in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been exhibited throughout the US and in Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and France.