"Because You Asked"

From Rhizome Artbase
Alan Bigelow

"Because You Asked" is the artist's digital self-portrait in sound, text, and image. It provides the user with the opportunity to create the self-portrait, and then, if they wish, erase it. This work is a commentary on the tradition of self-portraiture and its ongoing evolution in a digital age.
"Because You Asked" is created entirely in Flash, and uses a synthesized combination of text, images, and audio to complete the self-portrait. The piece is interactive, and requires that the user click on a series of buttons, appearing as icons, to proceed through the work. It is only through the user's participation that the self-portrait can be completed, and once completed, the user has the option, through tools provided on the site, to erase it.
The purpose of the work is two-fold.
First, it is a commentary on the tradition of self-portraiture, and how that tradition has evolved within the technological parameters of new media. In particular, the web--especially through the use of applications like Flash--offers the possibility of a self-portrait being not only a multi-media event, but also an event which involves audience participation. The act of self-portraiture is, by definition, a solitary act, but with the web as a venue, it becomes a cooperative act. In this case, the cooperative act completes a portrait that, although already stored within the Flash movie, cannot play until prompted by outside intervention. The user becomes the "painter" of the portrait, and as with all artists, at the end has the option to erase the work they have created.
Secondly, this piece is a commentary on language, and how language--self-descriptive words, phrases, and concepts--becomes a summation, an expression of the self. In "Because You Asked," this language of self-expression finds its visual equivalent in text, that through masking effects in Flash, fills in a photographic rendering of the artist. There is no self-identification without language, and the end result (the completed self-portrait) fills only a temporary space on the virtual page, until it is erased, and thereby deconstructed.

Alan Bigelow
12 September 2007
Variant History
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Alan Bigelow