Assistant Professor of Art Michael Kolster never takes a day off. Since November 2002, he has posted one digital image each day on his Web site, the Daily Post, as a way to mark the passage of time and to experiment with a less traditional art form.
Born out of a desire to experiment with digital photography, the Daily Post has manifested itself in a unique entity.
"When I started it I had an idea to see what it was it was like to work completely in a digital realm," Kolster said. "I always wanted to figure out a way to do a project that would engage me in a daily process, along the same lines as a musician or an athlete. Making pictures is an activity that gains a lot from doing it all the time. I committed to doing this daily post as a way to engage in the new medium and promise myself that right."
The site, which includes archives of the nearly 3,000 photographs that Kolster has taken, presents a new idea about the perception of time and photographic pattern.
"I try really hard to forget what I did the day before. The one thing I really try for in the project is to be as open as I can," Kolster said. "I'm kind of surprised by looking back at what's happened even a couple days earlier. I'm interested in the ways pattern evolve over time in the pictures when I'm not trying."
The result of this process is that many photographs contain similar images but from a new point of view. Kolster focuses many of his shots on home life, including his son and his family's environment. The effect is a sense of intimacy and comfort that arises from the natural day-to-day progression.
Kolster has a particular process for selecting photos each day. Most often, he will take many photographs of the same subject and select the one he likes best. Occasionally he will take only one shot, or he will take many different shots of separate subjects and select from that group.
According to Kolster, using a digital camera is ideal for taking daily photographs.
"I've certainly come to appreciate the power and the strength of digital photography. I carry the camera with me all the time," Kolster said. "I'll shoot and engage with subjects that I wouldn't normally. My choice of subject matter has expanded immensely."
The ability to share photographs on the Internet instead of in a gallery motivates Kolster's project.
"What I like about it being on the Web is that it adheres to the sense of the passage of time. Time is defined by the ways that we commonly measure time," Kolster said. "When I put it up on the gallery wall it wasn't as easy for that message to come through."
Although Kolster does not generally use the Daily Post as a resource for his own classes, his project has developed an international following in the art world. Used in lectures by professors in Arizona and California and adopted as a resource for multiple colleagues of Kolster, the Daily Post is a new way of looking at art.
Kolster cites the uncommonness of the project as its source of success.
"There is this idea in photography that artists are always looking for other ways to get their work out into the world," Kolster said. "This serves as a possibility to get work out into the world through unconventional means."
The Daily Post can be accessed at dailypost.bowdoin.edu. Interested viewers can subscribe to the mailing list located on the site and receive each day's picture by e-mail. The Web site also includes a link to Kolster's personal collection of projects.