Iraqi American artist, Wafaa Bilal, is a photographic arts professor at New York University. His project, what he calls The 3rd I, is just one of many controversial – and painful – art projects he’s created.
Bilal first made headlines in 2007 when he placed himself in a museum room with a live webcam and invited web-watchers to remotely shoot paintball pellets at him via the internet. More than 65-shots were fired, from participants all over the world. The reason? To remember the Iraqi dead killed during the wars. Then, he had names of more than one-hundred thousand Iraqi dead and their hometowns tattooed all over his body.
Now, he’s having a camera embedded in the back of his head. Actually, he had a camera mount surgically attached to his head, that will hold the camera in place. Cables will run down the camera to a device he will wear that will automatically capture photos of everything right behind him – one photo a minute, 24 hours a day – for a full year.
The operation, under local anesthesia, took two hours, was very painful, and he’s had to ‘workout’ daily for skin on his attachment to get used to supporting the electronic device. The camera attaches to the implant with magnets.
The artist realizes, like many art forms, many people won’t get this. It’s definitely a statement that George Orwell was right, when he wrote the book 1984. Big Brother IS watching – and that’s the point to Bilal’s The 3rd I project.
“Do we really have privacy these days,” Bilal pondered in an Associate Press interview. “How many times is our image taken each day without our knowledge.”
Bilal’s website has a countdown calendar to when his head-cam goes live, which is scheduled for this Wednesday, December 15th.