Whitehot Magazine

February 2011: Andy Lin: The Self-Portrait Project

Andy Lin, Self-Portrait #211, 2010, Courtesy of The Self-Portrait Project

Andy Lin has mastered the art of shooting. Recently, he has exhibited his talent at the “Big Buck Hunter” 2010 Championships, where his virtually-deadly fire has ignited all sorts of internet gossip. His Zen demeanor, even after a few stiff drinks, only amplifies the hype surrounding this Lower East Side dweller who has been posted in his abode well before Ludlow Street’s facelift. However when he isn’t playing, he captures his prized game with a camera and mounts it to a wall securely framed. Andy prefers awards for photographs over pixilated deer. Currently, his main goal is to fully concentrate on his largest project “The Self-Portrait Project.”

Backed by professional experience with fashion and commercial still-life photography juxtaposed with a rich sociological and economic  pedigree, Andy embarks on a cross-country exploration in an attempt to construe his own contemporary concept of the “Zeitgeist,” a term notably employed by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to articulate the “spirit of a time or area” that governs human desire during a distinct historical period. Realizing that a complete analysis of Hegelian Aesthetics and Morality would cramp the style of this article and leave little room for any discussion of Andy, please assume that it is plausible to render a Zeitgeist in a palpable form, such as through an art work. Philosophical thought suggests that the Zeitgeist is learned after the period ends.

Andy Lin at Big Buck Hunt Championship 2010, courtesy of Big Buck Hunter
Unfortunately Andy does not double as Dr. Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, ergo Andy postulates that The Self-Portrait Project could at least exhibit a part of contemporary spirit by compiling a visual library of self-portraits taken by the subject. He has designed a “two-way mirror with a camera situated behind it, shooting through it. There's also a remote trigger for the camera. The participant stands in front of the mirror and with the remote trigger, shoots him/herself. The resulting image comes up on a computer screen/projector.” Therefore the viewer transcends to the role of the artist and dictates the final image, an image that portrays the viewer as he or she sees fits. Do not mistake Andy’s contraption for a photo booth (even though those are fun too!). Andy has applied his photography acumen to the machine and demands excellence from every shot. Lighting, editing and work flow are high. He acts as the administrator and archivist of the oeuvre, using FileMaker and Adobe Lightroom.

Andy Lin, Love is always the appropriate reaction, Portland Oregon, 2008, (billboard)

Andy’s quest demands an amalgamation of conceptual ideology and photography that hasn’t been executed since Marcel Duchamp’s numerous self-portrait series. The Self-Portrait Project touches upon Roland Barthes’ extensive research of a photograph’s essence. Barthes has claimed that essence is derived from the spectator’s realization and fascination with Death after viewing a photograph. On the contrary, I propose that essence could be generated by the metaphysical death of a moment that remains eternal on the photograph. A good photograph confronts the viewer with a haunting duality of time and “the end.” In relation to Andy’s project, the essence of each photograph has first been formulated by the subject. Moreover, Andy interweaves a Social Change Theory into the project’s conceptual foundation. Photographing oneself is an intimate process, in which people are directly affected by their decisions. Given the chance, the viewer attempts to project personality, temperament, beauty, style—his or her essence. Perhaps, the collection of essences traces the contemporary zeitgeist.

Andy Lin, Father-Daughter #1, Photograph of Ra, Andy's cat and best friend, 2007

Although Andy and his project are presently portable, Andy intends to house the project in a permanent studio, where people would come to photograph themselves comfortably. Hopefully, the project will soon renovate a means to hire a small staff and space. Even in the beginning Andy clearly outlines the project’s future. He would like to publically exhibit around the world in galleries, museums, and everywhere else. Also, he intends to upload photographs and create a website with “proprietary software that allows people to participate in the project on their own terms… like a Visual Storycorps.”

Surprisingly, Andy stresses a great deal over the project. After some bumps in the beginning, which have been smoothed by friends and structural advancement, Andy has only grown a few gray hairs easily covered by his thick, dark mane and has revived his daily routines, i.e., meditation and kick-boxing, to build back some muscle tone.

Andy sees the Self-Portrait Project as a catalyst for social change, a way to get people to actually see themselves. This isn’t the first time Andy would “change” the world. Beginning in 2005 and still, Andy spreads the mantra, “Love is always the appropriate reaction.” Andy creates hand stamped magnets, public installations and even billboard signs publicizing his phrase. Since 2005, the words have reached the global audience being reproduced in countries, where Andy hasn’t even visited. Andy Lin has a penchant for stimulating overarching projects and leaving them autonomous, so that he may begin the next. There must always be time to feed his stray cat, Ra, and practice “Big Buck Hunter.”
 Self-Portrait Project # 89, 2010 Courtesy of The Self-Portrait Project

 Self-Portrait # 12, 2010, Courtesy of The Self-Portrait Project

Self-Portrait #75, 2010, Courtesy of The Self-Portrait Project

Self-Portrait #1, 2010, Courtesy of The Self-Portrait Project

Self-Portrait #33, 2010, Courtesy of The Self-Portrait Project

Self-Portrait #60, 2010, Courtesy of The Self-Portrait Project


Megan Garwood

Megan M. Garwood graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, receiving a Bachelor of Arts concentrating in the History of Modern Art with a minor in Ethical Analysis and Morality. Once in New York City she paid her dues as a gallery girl, first at Bjorn Ressle Fine Art and next at Marlborough Chelsea. For the past three years she has worked as an Arts and Culture freelance writer for multiple international publications. Each morning she still asks herself if she feels more like a urinal than a work of art, only because “R.Mutt” is scrawled across her left shoulder.

Contact: mmgarwoo@gmail.com
Portfolio: http://meganmgarwood.blogspot.com/

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