The PhotoBooth is a project‑device which uses
a 4” x 5” large format camera to take portraits made up of four photographs. The photographs are made according to a certain pattern, and the photographer objectifies himself, becoming part of the photographic machine. In an artistic sense, the imposition of firm rules – devoid of individuality – on oneself and the model, is similar to the literary exploration of the OuLiPo group. Creating the most bizarre procedures was for Georges Perec – one of the major figures of the group, along with Raymond Queneau – in addition to formal experiment, a means to fill the metaphysical void. To kill off the fear of nothingness. “For a long moment, I trembled before a blank sheet of paper”, wrote Perec. However, the space constructed on the basis of arbitrarily imposed procedures still holds an undefined space. However, filling them is already so much easier.
What is interesting about the project is the performative aspect of the act of photography itself. The mechanics of the camera depend on specific actions while taking a photograph, which in turn affect the thinking of the photographer, his point of view as well as prompting an analysis of certain limits. All these elements also influence the person being photographed – the effect of this interaction can be seen on the photographs. The device determines behaviour, and the image’s registration is marked by the camera’s interpretation of it. The project goes beyond photography for one more reason. For Przemek Krzakiewicz, the attempt to organise and mechanise (creative) work raises a question about the possibility and legitimacy of the photographer adapting to a particular, arbitrarily imposed rhythm of action. PhotoBooth is also a private experiment, a way for the artist to decide whether, after many years of freelance work, he is still able to reconfigure his works’ subjectivity as a member of the precariat.
The customer has the right to assume any facial expression, although it is absolutely forbidden to break any of the rules. People who decide to participate in the project will be required to read the PhotoBooth rules, which are a hat tip to the Rules of Witkacy’s Portrait business. The set of principles proposed by Krzakiewicz specifies the operating procedures and rules of conduct which set out the intimate relationship between photographer, photographed and machine. The creation and warming of this relationship is an integral part of PhotoBooth, and who knows, perhaps even more important than the final quadruple portrait.