In the name of art

Iraq artist Wafaa Bilal with the new camera mounted to the back of his head. Photo by Brad Farwell
Image caption Wafaa Bilal displays the camera newly installed to the back of his head

Wafaa Bilal is an Iraqi artist who has had a camera attached to the back of his skull for a year long art exhibition.

The camera which tracks his every move via GPS, is taking one photo every minute for the next year, and is feeding the images in real-time to Qatar's first ever exhibition of contemporary art at the new Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

The photography professor from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, who fled Iraq in 1991, says the project is partly intended as a comment on today's surveillance society.

Here he answers some of your questions about his unusual project.

Your questions

Bob Hurton, Redlands, California, USA: I love the concept of this piece. I wonder if you find yourself trying to frame shots as you go about your day?

The whole idea behind the project is to make the images objective and remove subjectivity from the process, so I'm trying not to influence or frame the shots. But it's hard because the human inclination is to record and frame shots all the time, it's about sharing the moment with others, so it was very hard at the beginning not to turn around and intentionally capture these moments. But as the project progressed I've stuck more to the philosophy of the project and resisted the urge to frame shots.

Lamin Baldeh, Serrekunda, The Gambia asks: Why did you decide to do it? What kind of feeling do you get from it?

I decided to do the project in part because of my experience in Iraq, where I had to flee without the opportunity to reflect on or record what I was leaving behind. I'm also fascinated by the corners of our lives that we pass without acknowledging or examining; the whole approach is a very meditative rather than active one. There is a sense that because it is connected to the internet, I am instantly sharing the moments of my existence with everyone else. It gives me a feeling that I'm not alone.

Image caption Wafaa Bilal travelled to Qatar for the opening of the exhibition

Joseph, New York, USA: Why did you choose to place the camera on the back of your head as opposed to facing forward on your forehead?

The camera is in the back of my head instead of the front because the whole point was to capture images without the influence of the power of the eye and the framing of the finger. If the camera was in front of my head, it would still be influenced by what I see and look at.

Aanchal Bhatt, India: How much physical strength do you need to prepare yourself for this? Does passion and dedication help?

Besides the physical, I really needed to be mentally prepared. It's an unusual commitment that really influences your daily routine. It also has been physically very tough to go through.

Gretchen, Baltimore, USA: What was your mission with your current project?

One mission was to capture the fleeting movement; also to lose subjectivity; and to comment on the state we live in, where we are under constant surveillance and suffer the loss of any private spaces. One could ask aren't I becoming part of this problem I am reflecting (the surveillance state). That is what I intended - the artist acts as a mirror reflecting the social condition.

Stephen Partington, Khon Kaen, Thailand: I want to commend your new approach to exploring the extraordinary art of our ordinary lives. Art is, after all, about finding angles and approaches that give a new perspective on life. I think that's what I like about your project. May I ask, what images first came to mind when you began day-dreaming about this project?

The mind plays simple tricks on us by asking us to not really look at certain things because we've seen them so many times before - how many spaces, places and corners do we see in our lives and don't really pay attention to? The project is reflecting these corners back and saying "Hey look at me."

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