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Albert Kong

We want Family Portraits – a living room wall of digital picture frames featuring passersby in Downtown Oakland.

As the biological family becomes less relevant in our generation, the community we surround ourselves with has become its substitute. A wall of portraits as we know it, representing familial relationships in our lives, has become less meaningful, but symbolically, it still represents something important: significant moments, important relationships, and intimate memories, framed and displayed together to show not only who we are, but the people who deeply matter to us.

In this project, we propose a replica of the corner of a classic living room, with a recliner and end table; embedded in the wall are digital picture frames that cycle photos of individuals in the community and their loved ones–photos that they can take on the opposite side of the wall, which functions as a photo booth. When people walk by, the installation invites them to take photos, which are then uploaded to the frames and remain until they are replaced by future photos. In this way, the physical and visual effects of a living room that represents a sense of a warm family are evoked.

The selfie shows that photography has become a technology that is accessible and widespread enough that it can be an easy medium for self expression and playfulness. By allowing the public a context that gives their photos a deeper meaning, passersby can enjoy a quick interaction that allows them to represent themselves however they like–playing versions of themselves that are silly, authentic, aspirational, or fantastical. Such roleplay is an essential type of play that allows an individual to explore who they are. After taking a photo, they can enjoy their self-representation on the other side of the wall, and imagine themselves as a piece of the larger community, surrounded by other Oakland residents whom they may never even meet.

We believe that this final point, framing individuals as part of a “family” instead of isolated beings in a crowd, is an important statement about the individual’s importance in, connection to, and responsibility for their city. This installation expresses this notion in a playful manner while leaving an enduring statement even to those who choose not to interact with it.

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Supporters All

Our City
Helen Wyman
Tom K.
Jake Levitas


Downtown Oakland

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