A Year of Emotions "Incarcerated" in a Photographic Diary
by Ryoji Yamada
On May 10, 2001, 20-year-old Jimmy Owenns, photographic artist featured on Net Art website Rhizome.org, stripped off her clothes to take her daily shower — an unremarkable event except that Owenns documented it in a sequence of still images.
A self-described "artist without a sexual identity", Owenns created the "Photographic-Diary Project" as an exploration of human emotions that transcends by dismissing them altogether in an attempt to make the most “honest“ depiction of the “human experience“ says Owenns. The artist calls herself the “lab rat" in a journey through the gray zones of the human psyche.
By putting one of her projects online, Owenns undoes some of the traditional limitations of still imagery. The images are activated when the cursor is moved over the photograph, animating through a sequence of black-and-white stills that “incarcerate [the] emotions” of a given memory. Owenns thought a single image was insufficient and opted to use several photographs, so the “human state would not be fixed, but alive.“ Adorned with the phrases “lies in lift,“ referring to lies she told to a stranger in an elevator, “reality“ of her television documentary “punishement park“, the June 12th entry captures the arrest and gagging of a black man juxtaposed next to a line-up of white protestors.
Black-and-white, a lie versus truth, male opposes female — these polarities are what Owenns explores, not as they relate to each other, but as if categorical identification is wholly irrelevant because as Owenns says, “In art, we are just human.“