Six Years of Daily Self Portraits… With the Lens Cap On

Here’s a photo project so profound that it might make you weep (you might also cry for other reasons). Artist Will Vincent has a project titled “Two Thousand, One Hundred and Ninety One.” His artist statement is a single sentence: “Every day for six years I took a photo of myself with the lense cap on.”

Here’s a selection of some of the better photographs in the series:

So basically, Vincent is like Noah Kalina meets John Cage.

Photographer Noah Kalina’s Everyday project features a single self-portrait taken every day for the past 12 years.

American composer and music theorist John Cage is most famous for his 1952 piece, 4′33″. Here’s a performance of that piece (this video has nearly 3 million views on YouTube, and plenty of “dislikes.”):

Vincent has some other things to say about Two Thousand, One Hundred and Ninety One:

An extended visual musing on: The fleetingness of existence. The sheer futility of human endeavour. The extent to which internet meme culture pervades modern life. Being a forgetful bastard.

Making: One camera, one tripod, one man.

Thankfully, all the “photographs” on Vincent’s website are copies of a single GIF image, meaning this isn’t a project he literally carried out. That would have been… depressing.

Two Thousand, One Hundred and Ninety One [Will Vincent via Fstoppers]

Update: Wikipedia has an entire list of songs that consist mostly or entirely of silence.

Image credits: Photographs by Will Vincent

  • lidocaineus

    My take is that the black shot directly speaks to 4’33” – whereas Cage’s piece used the lack of creator input to create a close approximation to a purely uncolored experience through ambiance and incidentals. To me, this is akin to a photogram: it is what it is, which is a black image. You can take it as a collection of pixels, or printed, as a collection of dots impregnated into paper. You can take it as a broken camera, or a person forgetting to take off the lens cap, or a shot taken in a pitch black room.

    But that’s not the point, as I was saying the reason it speaks to Cage’s piece is because of all the meta-wranglings around it – is this, and the things done in similar veins (like Cage) art? Is it garbage? Is it worthless? Can you see things in it that aren’t there, or is that just an exercise in mental masturbation? If you did it in Windows Paint or not isn’t even a concern.

  • OmniMode

    Each picture really captures Vincent’s artistic talent.
    I’m surprised they weren’t done as wet plates or tin types…

  • Marc

    If he was serious about it, he’d show the EXIF for each photo. Otherwise it’s crap.

  • which way is UP?

    I wanted to get a 8 X 10 of one of his photos, but cannot decide if I should get it on B&W paper or metallic? Any suggestions?

  • Smig

    Every day is a learning day. I never expected Godwin’s Law to be invoked during discussions about photography. I think it says a lot about the people that connect grammar with genocide.

    On a brighter note; the sun is shining and I have coffee and a camera.

  • Alvis Rozenbergs

    Could generate EXIF data on each picture, instead of just one .gif posting hundrets of time. :( boring

  • ripley


  • Carlos Garcia

    what I think is missing is the dedication to actually carry on the supposed experiment. By putting an effort into thing, you give them meaning. At least thats what I think.

    Have you heard of this guy who locked himself up in a cage for a year, while not talking to anyone or even reading? He envisioned this as an art exhibit, and people visited. This speaks of commitment. What if he had stayed in the cage, filmed it for a day and then looped the video for 365 days? Would that have been the same? I think not.

    Doesnt mattter what you chose to do, but commit to it, that is something I can respect.