Friday, 2 September 2011

BOOKMARKS lX, A project with the University of West England's Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR)

100 Years: A collection of people at each age from 1 to 100. 100 Bookmarks demarking 100 years of a human life span. The series is about repetition and finality, but also of hope.
As an ongoing fascination, obsession even, with aging and death, I though it would be a revealing exercise finding and documenting human beings at each stage in life, at each age.
Youth is so shortlived. Out of 100 years, a good 80% is lived as an adult. 50% would be considered a time of decline.
I experienced mixed emotions searching for and documenting strangers of every age between 1 and 100, in intimate settings. It was intriguing looking at young children and seeing how much difference there was in just one, or 2 years. I was a little anxious when looking for youngsters and worried I might come across a peadophile site. I was disconcerted to find young women under 18 trying to pass off as being older in alluring poses. After about age 24, most images were linked to matchmaking sites. From the matchmaking sites, most of the 24 to 50 year olds were predominantly women. After around 50 they were mostly men linked to high earnings statistics. At 65, suddenly most of the image links became graphs and statistics about aging, retirement, illness and death. It was much harder to find an ordinary, picture of a still living older person.
It was an informative foray. I discovered people I forgot about, learned of deaths, achievements and saw some things I'd rather not have. I found myself being very discerning about who I selected. I avoided celebrities and well known people. I did not choose pictures from obituaries, nor of those with a focus on an illness. I left out criminals and any who were in the news due to any kind of suffering. I wanted to capture people still alive at their respective ages, and in reasonable health. If there were many choices (which there usually was not) I would go for the most youthful looking in their age group. I wanted to maintain an upbeat slant to the portrayals, applying a sense of hope that we all have a chance to live a long life. After 70, nearly all the photos were of people who had died. Or, on the flip side, they were men, and a few women defying age with regimes and super fit bodies. What's interesting, is that after age 80, more living people appear again because of how amazing it is they're still around. I tried to vary all selections with regard to sex and race. The images have been lightened to help retain anononimity. I have included myself as a mystery addition to the collection, as a way of acknowledging my own place in the life-time-continuum.


tanya kingston said...

I've just stumbled across your work Leslie. I think this idea of age in the form of bookmarks is wonderful.

Leslie Wilson-Rutterford said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Tanya. Have you seen the other bookmarks in the series at UWE?