Exquisite Corpse 2015, part 1 of 2

Maine Media Workshops+College (MMWC), the school where I used to work, has decided to start a hopefully-annual fundraising project called “Exquisite Corpse”. As when the surrealists first started these types of things, MMWC has asked various artists connected to the school to participate by creating pieces of art in a very specific, and yet still completely open-ended way.

For this portion of the project, each person receives an image, via email, from the previous person in the chain. They then have to make their own image as a response to, or inspired by, that previous link in the chain – in whatever way they feel like. They then pass their image along to the next person, for them to repeat the process. It’s like the old game of “telephone”, but with photos. The only “rule”, if I remember correctly, was that we had 24 hours to supply our image.

Here is the image I received:

©David Chapell
©David Chapell

I understood the rules, in this particular case, to be that we had 24 hours to create the image. My idea came to me blissfully fast, and I headed off to the local Riteaid for supplies.

Now I know what a neophyte photographer must feel like walking into B&H. I had no clue where to even start!

I had, of course, zero idea how to apply eye shadow, or how to achieve the effect that I wanted. My victim subject, Kari, was trying her best, but she was applying it as it should have been used, which was woefully inadequate for my needs. Desperate times called for desperate measures…

Kari was putting on the eyeshadow like you’re supposed to do – she just wasn’t getting my vision – so I had to demonstrate what I meant by “more eyeshadow!”

After some experimentation and demonstration on myself, I managed to make Kari look roughly as freaky as I had envisioned, and made my tintype photograph for the Exquisite Corpse project.

I did not know it at the time, but my image was passed to the amazing Sylvia Plachy for her to take and run with. On the right-hand page you can see her response:

My response to the original photo is on the left, Sylvia Plachy’s continuation of the project from my photo is on the right.

If I remember correctly, the sequence of artists was determined solely by the order in which they agreed to be part of the project. The progression of images through the book is really interesting.

It turns out some people interpreted the guidelines to mean just that they had 24 hours to find an image in their archives, so the resulting sequence may have, in my opinion, slightly less organic continuity than if we had all created the images in the moment, in that 24-hour period. But still, the results were fascinating, and were collected in a book which MMWC printed and sold as part of the fundraising effort.

BTW, I left the working location and drove off for home having completely forgotten that I was still wearing my eyeshadow…