New York University photography professor Wafaa Bilal’s latest project, “The 3rd I,” goes live on December 15 at the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar.
The Iraqi-born performance artist underwent a two-hour operation at a body modification shop, with just a local anesthetic, to embed a thumbnail-sized camera into the thin outer layer of the skin over his skull for his year-long social commentary project. Three titanium plates were embedded in his head, each with a post that pierces through the skin, and a 10-megapixel color digital camera, measuring one inch by two inches attaches to these posts.
Commissioned by the museum, Bilal’s camera will capture an image every minute and stream live to museum visitors for one year, as well as to the Internet. This is not Bilal’s first body modification project for art’s sake.
“An artist is a mirror reflecting the social condition,” says Bilal. “Do we really have privacy these days? How many times each day is our image taken without our knowledge?”
NYU apparently agrees with the issue of unwelcome cameras capturing people’s movements, requesting from Professor Bilal that when on-campus, his camera is turned off to respect the privacy of the students.