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:18 Project

Photographs and Video by Christine Gatti

August 16 - September 27, 2006

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From late July 2004 through mid-January 2006, I took two photographs—one of my face and the other of my surrounding environment—on the 18th minute of each hour of every day. At bedtime, I set the camera on a tripod and programmed the timer to activate as I slept. I chose the 18th minute because I was born on the 18th day of November, and ever since I was a young girl, I’ve noticed the numbers “11:18” on the digital clock next to my bed. Each time, it seems a strange, familiar coincidence.

It would be easy for anyone looking at this project to assume that it is about contemporary culture’s fascination with reality TV, fast-paced MTV-style editing, short attention spans and a snapshot aesthetic. However, the motivation behind the project was actually more personal and practical. I wanted to be present in my own life, to come out of my head for a moment or two every hour and take note of where I was in the physical world, to become aware of my feet on the ground. I saw the project as a meditation; a ritual; a commitment added to a less committed life; an experiment.

This photographic project is also about the unrelenting presence of the camera. At times, the images allude to the nature of photography, but mostly they are a strict and plain account of the hours.

Over the course of 18 months, I found I became less self-conscious, as the vast number of images overshadowed the minute details of my face. Lines became less interesting. Every moment represented in the photographs, important or mundane, has the same weight, and emotion is flat. There is no judgment. This quality emerges markedly in video format. The person in the photographs is me, but my image is a translucent impression fused with half-eaten edamame, highway signs or a computer screen. Over time, I realize this body of work has become less a self-portrait and more a document of anyone’s life.

This process, to become mindful for a few moments on the hour, has produced more than 20,000 images.

-CG

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Photographer and musician Christine Gatti lives and works in New York City. Her passion for photography began when she discovered the macro lens on her father’s Pentax Spotmatic, a fixture in his dental office. Throughout her New Jersey childhood, she experimented with the family’s Super 8 camera and her prized Kodak 110 Pocket Instamatic. Christine received her formal education in photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and later studied with Andreas Müller-Pohle and Thomas Lüttge in Salzburg, Austria. Since moving to New York, Christine has pursued an eclectic freelancer’s life, assisting fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier, scouting locations for reality TV shows, wrangling babies for advertising shoots, building sets, composing music for independent films and singing in bars. All of these experiences have informed her work.

In 2005, Christine submitted the :18 Project to CEPA Gallery’s annual Members’ Show competition in Buffalo, New York. Juror Louis Grachos, director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, subsequently selected the project for a solo exhibition at CEPA’s Flux Gallery. Components of the :18 Project have been shown in the Slideluck Potshow and Group-Show.com, both in New York. Aperture Foundation’s executive book editor Lesley Martin also included Christine’s work in Eleven New Viewpoints as part of “Fellowship 2005” at the Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Special thanks to Lawrence Brose at CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.

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