February 4, 2007

Feb 4th, 1986


I recently came across this (somewhat self conscious) self portrait taken exactly 21 years ago. You're looking at my freshman year dorm room, a two room triple I shared with Nick ("The Rage") and Scott (Scott was the kind of guy who never merited a nickname. He was leader of the mime troupe and was always proudly proclaiming his virginity.) The things that draw my attention the most are the typewriter on my roommate's desk (which makes the picture seem ancient) and my dorky hat. I was trying out the hat thing... I've tried the hat thing many times over my life. These episodes usually last a week or two and, thankfully, fade quickly.

I remember taking the picture... A brand new Hüsker Dü tape was playing in the cassette player and I thought, "I'll probably want to remember this room someday. Nick is out raging, Scott is out miming, now's my chance, but then again I'll probably look back at the picture someday and think, man what a jackass I was. Oh well, at least I'm wearing a cool hat."

posted at 01:46 AM by raul

Filed under: personal history

TAGS: 1986 (3) 311 Hamilton Hall (1) 512K Macintosh (1) Princeton (1) self portrait (4)


02/04/07 09:11 AM

Damn, I love shots like this. I want to blow this up huge and look at every detail. What's in the photos above your desk? What's the book at your feet? And why is there a red bucket next to the desk, apparently half full of dark liquid? (And how about that Texas flag -- the largest thing in the whole room?)

You inspired me to post two dorm shots on Flickr that I took roughly 31 years ago... http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeholmes/379194310/ (I wish I'd had your wide angle lens. I think I was shooting with a Yashica rangefinder with a fixed 50mm.)

02/04/07 11:48 AM

Hey Joe, those dorm room shots of yours are super I especially like the reel-to-reel....... They make me want to scan the series of portraits I did back then of kids in the dorms...

The photos above the desk were mainly postcards, portraits of Miles Davis, TS Eliot etc. I also had a Garry Winogrand image and a Walker Evans... The big poster above the desk was a Moriyama (turned sideways) pinched from outside a gallery. The bucket was probably melted ice. The book on the floor was a textbook, probably math or physics judging from the abstract cover. As for the flag, well I did grow up in Texas... remember it was solidly democratic back then...

02/04/07 03:30 PM

>> They make me want to scan the series of portraits I did back then of kids in the dorms...

Oh please, please so.

Re: Texas -- but of course. And anyway, Democratic, Republican, whatever, you gotta be true to your state.

And I forgot to mention: that Mac on your desk? I'm guessing a brand new Mac Plus...

02/04/07 10:09 PM

Candy Apple Grey(?) is a great album. I'll have to dig that out. I wish (and then often rethink that wish) that I had started taking photos before a few years ago if it was simply just to revisit bits of my youth.

02/04/07 10:16 PM

Candy Apple Grey it was. It was a pre-release copy all the guys at the college radio station were passing around.

02/05/07 10:15 AM

This is beautiful and I have to tell you I actually like the hat. Makes me wish i did more self portraits. The whole idea of the image bringing back your entire train of thought is amazing to me......and wow...a virgin mime.

02/06/07 12:46 PM

Hüsker Dü; you do my Minnesotan heart proud!

I don't think you look too bad in the hat. It's nice to have pictures from when we were experimenting with different presentations of ourselves.

I'm just jealous that you seem to have so many self-portraits. I've been so paradoxically self-conscious that hardly an photo of myself in adulthood or near-adulthood exists.

I think it's time to get out there and change that! What do you think makes up the elements of a good self-portrait?

02/06/07 01:52 PM

I started taking self portraits pretty young at 9 or 10. I did them mainly because my brothers would make faces whenever I pointed the camera their way and I wasn't interested in those kinds of pictures. Even now the self portrait impulse is often driven by the thought "I'd like to try x, but nobody wants to be bothered, so I'll shoot myself." The second motivation is usually the desire to fix a particular time or emotion. For whatever reason in my life I'm usually the only one around carrying a camera, so if I want to remember something I have to shoot myself. These pictures are often spur of the moment, taken without a tripod at arms length. Perhaps because the perspective is often the same the images are easily paired. And pairing images makes me feel all the time in between. An example. another example.

My favorite self portraits are often at once nakedly revelatory and containers of secrets. Anything by Chuck Close, Nan Goldin's Nan one month after being battered, Richter's Self Portrait Three Times, anything by Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, etc

02/07/07 03:07 PM

That's a real treasure. I love the vintage mac behind you. And the Christmas lights in the window.

02/22/07 11:25 AM

Texas Flag!!

05/17/11 07:20 PM

no offence but thats a good quality photo, especially for your time period. i like it.

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