Average Life

Average Life

In the past 16 years I've built a sizable archive of pictures. Most of these pictures have never been published. I'm now starting to create an 'average picture' of every folder I have with pictures in this archive. These average images embody today's overload of information, the average version shows nothing and everything at the same time. Because of the blurriness, the pictures sometimes get an almost spiritual feeling where the ephemeral feeling of individual images gets swallowed by something that is more reminiscent of eternity.

The first series covers all pictures I took with my camera in the period 2015 - august 2022. Smartphone pictures are not included.

I will also publish a series covering 2006 - 2014.

To be decided in the future (in dialogue with a gallery): expose these prints together with the 'best' picture of the source material used to create each average.

There's an interesting contrast between the speed with which the algorithm creates these new pictures, and all the time it took to build the archive. Every folder of images is a testimony of time spent and lived, and through photography, an attempt to capture what can never be captured; the moment. Layering these moments on top of each other and creating the average, is a heroic act, in its uselessness. The entire act of creating a visual average of one's own life could be interpreted as a ritual, a rite of passage. To accept the past, and accept it is gone forever, and reshape it as fertile ground to let new ideas spawn, and create the future.

If these images say anything from their mysterious abstract pixels, it is that we all share this mystery of life, and we all try to make sense of it, but the only sense in the end, these pictures whisper, is really to never stop trying to make sense out of life, no matter how shattered, or overwhelming or in-explainable it gets. However unique we might experience our own individual lives, the average shows there might be more universal patterns at play, that also allow us to relate more to 'the others', who really might be on a similar journey as we are ourselves.

The transitoriness of my individual life gets a more universal feel because of the average. The average is inescapable. For a big part of my life I have fought against it, searching and striving for excellence, for a way to set myself apart, and deviate from the average. Only to time and time again, bump back against the average. The average holds all the extremes, all volatility, all information. And yet it is something of its own. Yet the individual parts it was created from, can't be extracted back from it. Some of the most intimate moments in my personal life are here exposed, except they've become largely inaccessible, protected by the average.

For a long time I've only seen the ugliness of the average, but this project allowed me to also see and learn to appreciate the beauty in the average.

I will get back to the philosophical musing later, because a lot can be said about 'the average'.

August 15th 2022, Ghent BE

project by Dries Hoornaert

PS: It's december 6th 2022, and some philosophical musings have been added here: reflections