Prof to surgically implant camera for Qatar art project

Iraqi professor will stream live footage from head camera to Doha's Mathaf museum over period of one year
Wafaa Bilal intends to undergo surgery in the next few weeks to install the thumbnail-sized camera (for illustrative purposes only). Getty Images
By Joanne Bladd
Wed 17 Nov 2010 01:06 PM

A
US-based photography professor will have a camera implanted in the back of his
head as part of an elaborate art project commissioned by a Qatar museum.

Wafaa
Bilal, an Iraqi assistant professor at New York University’s Tisch School of
the Arts, intends to undergo surgery in the next few weeks to install the
thumbnail-sized camera, which will broadcast a live stream of images to
visitors at the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

The
artwork, titled ‘The 3rd I,’ will be among the inaugural exhibits of Mathaf
when it opens its doors in Doha next month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

For
one year, Mr Bilal's camera will take still pictures at one-minute intervals, which
will be fed to monitors at the Gulf museum.

According
to press materials from the museum, cited by the paper, the project is a comment
on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and
experience.”

Gas-rich
Qatar has invested billions of dollars in recent years in an effort to become a
cultural hub in the Gulf. The emirate is home to the I.M.Pei-designed Museum of
Islamic Art and, in October, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said he
would be keen to buy London auction house Christie’s.

“We
are building a museum and it [Christie’s] has links with the stuff we are
collecting for our museum. It depends on the opportunity – if we had a good
opportunity we would not hesitate,” he said.

It
is not the first time Mr Bilal’s work has caught the headlines. In 2008, he
hacked a video game to insert an avatar of himself as a suicide bomber tracking
former US President George W. Bush. The project, called ‘Virtual Jihadi’ caused
a storm of protests that eventually forced the close of the exhibition.

In
June, Mr Bilal tattooed on to his back a map of Iraqi cities for a work called
"...and Counting." The names of the cities were spelled out in Arabic
script, with dots added to mark the location of American and Iraqi casualties.

 

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