I got this idea from Chadwick, who started twittering at 8:36pm every day. I set a little alarm on my iPhone and post whatever I’m doing at that time. Then I ran across Jamie Livingston who took a polaroid every day for almost 20 years (1979-1997), until he died on his 41st birthday. It’s a beautiful project. The twist is to use the constraint of an arbitrary time (8:36pm) to limit the editorializing of our lives (there’s plenty of that in other parts of our internet usage), and to use Flickr, Twitter, and the ubiquity of cell phone cameras to turn this into a project that can be participated in as a group, with people joining whenever they wish.
Every day, at 8:36pm, take a picture of what you are doing. As boring as it is, no matter how many times you’ve done the same thing at the same time. Focus on the constraint of capturing a moment of the day, like a clay sample from the bottom of the ocean, and preserving it. While not a perfect sample of the day, perhaps, it will still represent it sufficiently to connect dots on the scale of a decade.
The goal of this project is to continue it for the rest of our lives. Missing a day here or there is not as important as continuing the project again and again and again.
The spirit of this project is the long-story of life. The fact that life moves simultaneously on the day-to-day, highly detailed, highly dramatic, arch at the same time that it moves like the slow swell of the ocean. This project’s spirit is in the slow swell, about how, a slight snapshot of each day, when later taken in the context of decades, will tell a story that the participants aren’t currently aware of.
The objective is to have as many people as are willing participate in the project, to create a collection of pictures and descriptions of what people were doing at this time of day, and to glean as much additional information in these slices as possible (for example, some phones have geolocation embedded in the photo).
The purpose of this project is to capture a part of our lives that we are too busy to see at the moment. It is also an exercise in the long-term project… how many things do we strive to continue for the rest of our lives? How does this affect our perception of time, motivation, and understanding of each other?
The contribution of the project to a well-balanced and healthy life
I want all of my projects to contribute to a well-balanced and healthy life. I believe that this project helps us accept ourselves a little bit simply by showing us that every minute of our lives contains something valuable. It contains something worth capturing and preserving. Also, that as boring as our lives may seem to be sometimes, that there is something different about each moment that we would savor if it were to be lost.
The product is a collection of pictures and descriptions. I hope to develop 836pm.com into a repository of 8:36pm items from as many people as are interested in participating. I want to continue to let people join in at any time without feeling like they’re coming to the party late. This is a lifetime project, after all, and the value of the project can be appreciated no matter when you start.
The shareable element
Yes, there is a shareable element to this project, on several levels. The tiny shared slices are shared. The content of the slices is unedited and therefore a different kind of sharing than usual. And the cumulative result of sharing every day for the rest of our lives also has a bigger impact. We are sharing the story of our lives before we even know what it is.