Click to preview Personal Timeframe photo book

Through use of an adapted paper negative process, Personal Timeframe takes a wry look at the present era of ubiquitous surveillance, social networking, and indeed ennui, by literally recording everything that has happened in front of the lens for periods of a week or more in a single photographic frame. Volunteers are sought and chosen through an open-call online, the process is explained and the subjects collaborate in the installation of the camera in their chosen personal space, normally a bedroom. The camera is then left, shutter open over an agreed timeframe.

While the resulting images are, in some cases quite beautiful due to the seductive nostalgia of the process and the ethereal motion blur of bed clothes and curtains, it is disconcerting to reflect that in many of them . . . nothing much seems to happen. Despite the fact that we can reasonably assume that people have slept, eaten, and carried out all their normal activities, in front of the open shutter, the length of exposure renders all the human actions that have happened within the frame as mere artefacts of motion – only the furniture and architecture is truly solid and time often appears not to be filled out as we might expect.

This gives cause to reflect on the now often apparent need to record our lives in minute and comprehensive detail and the corresponding trend of making this record available, for public consumption, via the various popular social networking platforms. This relentless ‘status updating’ and ‘tweeting’ has created a glut of banal, occasionally amusing or thought-provoking but more often than not fairly insignificant, yet often highly personal and readily available information. These photographs seek, in abstracted form to document and to an extent subvert this trend, in which the public and private are increasingly entangled; the intimate commonplace.


About the Author

William Arnold

William Arnold, b.1983, is a visual artist with a particular interest in the contemporary application of alternative and historical photographic processes.

Recently awarded the prize of ‘conceptual category winner’ of the Ideas Tap Photographic Award in association with Magnum Photos, William has been working on a new project for the final of this competition, focusing on the Luxulyan Valley in East Cornwall. Through a combination of pinhole photography, Super 8 cine and diegetic audio, this project will explore the natural processes of erosion and the effects of time on a once heavily industrialized landscape.

Alongside this work, still ongoing; is an exploration of themes of voyeurism, surveillance, and boredom, using extremely long exposures to document personal, private, spaces over prolonged time periods. William holds a degree in History and minor in Media and Communications (University of Lancaster, 2004)

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