Introducing: The Self-Portrait Project

Created in 2009 by artist Andy Lin, the Self-Portrait Project (SPP) is a photo-based, interactive archive project whose mission is to empower people in the creation and curation of their own images.  Each project kiosk utilizes a two-way mirror, with a camera shooting through the transparent side and the participant located on the reflective side.  Using a remote trigger, the participant chooses how and when to capture her/himself.  

In the simple act of letting the model be photographer, the dynamic of the photo changes - as does the energy - and therefore the final image.  Giving someone who is accustomed to having their picture “taken” the opportunity to document their own likeness on their own terms produces images that address issues of vanity and insecurity, empowerment and self-esteem, superficiality and substance.  As the photographer and model, you are wholly responsible for the images you create of yourself.

SPP is influenced by and owes a spiritual and aesthetic debt to a variety of sources, including Storycorps; the music archive work of John and Alan Lomax; the New Deal's Farm Security Administration images; early photo-paper-and-chemical analog photo booths, and a wide array of photographers including but not limited to Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Richard Avedon, Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Frank, Anton Corbijn, Sebastião Salgado, Anatol Josepho, Platon, Cindy Sherman, Diane Arbus, Edward Burtynsky, Eadweard Muybridge, Steve McCurry, Bill Cunningham, Brandon Stanton, JR, Patrick McMullan, Dorothea Lange, Andre Kertesz, Margaret Bourke-White, Luigi Ghirri, Paolo Roversi, Malik Sidibe, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.  

ANDY LIN is a National Geographic Traveler award-winning photographer who is the creator and administrator of the Self-Portrait Project.  He is a co-founder of Other Worlds, a multi-media non-profit that seeks to document and disseminate cases of living, thriving alternative economies around the world. 

During his time with Other Worlds, Andy traveled the globe photographing social movements such as the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil (MST); worker-controlled factories in Argentina; a gifting economy in Mali; and the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico.  The self-portrait mechanism in SPP is influenced by the belief ingrained in many of these societies that decisions are best made by those directly affected by them, or, said another way, “nothing about us without us”.  As the main creative force behind SPP, Andy has leveraged the project as a tool for marginalized individuals to “tell” their own visual stories on their own terms, taking it to Haiti tent encampments after the 2010 earthquake, as well as to multiple sites within the occupied West Bank of Palestine in 2015.