Six photographers took photographs at 7:15 p.m. each day in 2008. This picture is from Nov. 2.
Six photographers took photographs at 7:15 p.m. each night of 2008. This set is from Nov. 2.
For the past year, half a dozen photographers have captured an image at the same time each day — 7:15 p.m. — then added a caption and uploaded the photo to the Web. The photos are uploaded on a weekly basis, giving the artists some time away from their photos and the words they add to them.
What began as a collaboration between a teacher and his former photography student evolved into an experiment in how art can be an integral and integrated part of daily life. The photos became an online gallery, where nothing was for sale and no public comments were allowed, though viewers could e-mail the artists, and a counter kept track of the number and locations of visitors.
On Dec. 31, founders Brad Walker and Michael Lease will see the project — sametime715.com — to its end.
In terms of the project's parameters, Lease, an instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, says the Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh is a major influence. Hsieh is a performance artist whose work includes five One Year Performances both inside and outside his studio in New York City.
In one performance, the Time Clock Piece, Hsieh punched a time clock every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day, for one year. In his Cage Piece, Hsieh sealed himself in a wooden cage in his studio, without talking, reading, writing, listening to the radio or watching TV for a year. Though the creative intentions of the SAMETIME 7:15 photographers vary, Lease says the project demands a similar kind of straightforwardness that tests the boundaries between living life and making art.
Though it first appears as a gallery of sorts, the site becomes more of a diary with each voyeuristic glimpse. Captions often add a deeply personal touch to images that are visually spectacular in their own right. Some photos reveal the photographer traveling to a new place (particularly Jesse Sommerlatt, the traveling train hopper of the group), preparing for his band's show (Bryan Martin), teaching yoga (Kate MacDonnell) or playing pool (Soung Wiser); all are ordinary events made extraordinary simply by noticing the moment — 7:15 p.m.
Comparing SAMETIME 7:15 to social networking sites, "this feels a lot more risky because this is a chance to show your life being boring," Walker says. "The whole point of those Web sites is to show your family, your dog — all your prizes. And this is kind of about the opposite of that actually, you know? Showing how day-to-day is not really full of that necessarily."
Seen together, patterns begin to take shape. Since they're friends, some days find the photographers together; others reveal a few of them hundreds of miles apart but capturing similar things or situations. One image a day adds up to an inestimable calculation of life itself being lived.
And though the project's themes may resonate with others, for one fraction of a second each day, these six friends come together, no matter where they are, no matter what they're doing or who they happen to be with, to get out their cameras and take a look around.