For the past 11 years, Italian artist Alberto Frigo has photographed everything his right hand has touched, garnering a collection of over 300,000 images of his life, including selfies of him eating, brushing his teeth and reading. On average, Frigo snaps at least 76 objects a day, and posts his pictures on his website 2004-2040.com. The 36-year-old hopes that his project – currently exhibited at the Science Gallery in Dublin – will reveal some secret meaning to life. “I am excited that there might be some hidden pattern in all of this code I am generating,” Frigo told Metro.
What inspired you to take a photo of everything you touch?
It was the end of the 1990s and I was fascinated with the idea of filming the various processes of my everyday life, such as making bread from scratch, doing the laundry etc. Back then, there were no digital video cameras and I got quite frustrated about having to spend the evening editing what I was filming during the day. When digital technology arrived, I simply opted to document my life with a small camera, recording the objects I use.
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What do you do with all these photographs?
I am amazed with the notion that the objects I use are like the letters of an alphabet, a DNA code of my life. As I photograph, on average, 76 photos every day (depending on how active I am), I am planning to reach 1,000,000 photographs by the end of the project in 2040. I am excited that there might be some hidden pattern in all of this code I am generating. At the end of the project I want to present them in a 12 by 12 meters giant calendar.
Yes, when I will turn 60 years of age. I am not bored by the project at all, it just comes as naturally as putting a key in the front door and turning it to open.
Is it a challenge to take all these images?
As I photograph with my left hand what I do with my right hand, it soon came rather natural to take pictures. Maybe the only disturbing element of all of this is the beep the camera makes but both me and people around me have gotten quite used to that noise. Sometimes I may be holding up people by photographing the key to open a door but, but generally speaking those around me find the project fun.
Have you photographed your right-hand answering this email interview to me?
Yes I have! To be more precise, I have photographed the computer mouse as well as the USB stick I have inserted on my laptop in order to retrieve the pictures you have requested. If I now move to the living room and photograph my phone that is ringing, I will first have to photograph that and then, upon returning to the studio where I am writing you, I will have to rephotograph the computer mouse and so forth. This is basically how I know when it is time to photograph (the objects I use in a space are photographed once until a different object is photographed in a different space).
So, you are photographing daily things more than once?
There are things I photograph a lot every day like forks and spoons. Over the years certainly several objects have become more intrusive like the mobile phone. Also, as I have been living during these years in Europe, China and North America as an interaction designer and teacher, I have managed to use different objects in different occasions like a lot of chopsticks in Asia. Also, the various seasons bring different items, like the summer photos shows plenty of gardening tools and brighter scenes than during the winter.
So how many objects have you touched since 2004?
I have photographed over 300,000 objects and I feel good about it. I realized that by looking back at the sequences of photographs I have taken, I can easily remember what has happened during a particular day. It is quite a powerful memory augmentation system but in reality I just feel like I want to proceed with this project right till the end to provide something fascinating to others.
I guess, if your right hand were ‘there’, you would have photographed some rather, eh-hem, ‘private’ matters?
Yes, if my right hand uses an object that is improper, well that is then photographed. So, massage creams and so forth all go along, although they get quite discreetly lost into the pattern of other everyday objects. So really there are no limits and yes, occasionally some more corporal elements might show up!