Photography Professor to Implant Camera in the Back of His Head
November 17, 2010 /PN/ A photography professor from New York University is taking his art to the next level by having a camera surgically installed in the back of his head.
The Iraqi-born American artist Wafaa Bilal has been commissioned by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar to drill the thumbnail-sized camera into his head and have it take pictures at one-minute intervals for a year, with the images to be displayed in the museum after it opens in Doha on December 30.
According to the museum, the work is intended to be "a comment on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and experience."
The project - called "The 3rd I" - has created a stir at NYU, where students and administrators are worried about privacy issues.
Bilal has offered to cover the camera with a lens cap when he is on the N.Y.U. campus, out of respect for students’ privacy, but the university may require him to turn the camera off.
"As a school of the arts, a school whose mission is to educate artists, we place a high value on his right to free expression in his creative work as an artist, and take that principle very seriously," NYU Spokesman John Beckman said in a statement. "But as a school of the arts, we also take seriously the privacy issues his project raises, its impact on our students and the importance of preserving trust in the pedagogical relationship between a faculty member and students.
“There have been numerous conversations since Professor Bilal informed us of his project as we sought to find the right balance; we think they have been constructive and productive. We continue to discuss with him the right mechanism to ensure that his camera will not take pictures in NYU buildings.”
Bilal has provoked controversy with earlier projects, including one in 2008 called “Virtual Jihadi,” in which he altered a video game to insert an avatar of himself as a suicide-bomber targeting George W. Bush.