Detail of Wikipedia’s “Bodega Head” article with a photograph from David Horvitz’s Public Access, 2010–11.

Detail of Wikipedia’s “Bodega Head” article with a photograph from David Horvitz’s Public Access, 2010–11.

David Horvitz

Detail of Wikipedia’s “Bodega Head” article with a photograph from David Horvitz’s Public Access, 2010–11.

I’M INTERESTED in the movement of bodies and information, how different forms of attention are shaped online and offline, and how these forms come into conflict. Before Zuccotti Park was raided last November, a friend and I organized Occupy Wall Street life-drawing sessions there, using police officers as models. Two kinds of looking clashed: surveillance versus the observation of form and light. OWS relies on constant circulation of videos, photos, and words online to make information public. But being on a device means being removed from the actual event. Life drawing, in contrast, requires a heightened, detailed attention to one’s surroundings.

For Public Access, 2010–11, I photographed myself facing the ocean with my back to the camera at different sites along the Pacific coastline, then uploaded the images as metadata for Wikipedia’s entries on each location. Wikipedia is in a sense a public place, like California’s beaches. But online, information always meets your gaze and consumes your attention. At a beach you can stare into the distance.

Wikipedia’s editors noticed my contribution and debated whether it was a prank or an honest attempt to standardize images. Someone eventually cropped me out of most of the photos, in order to turn them into impersonal illustrations. Making something common means removing authorship. Here, a stranger authored the removal of me.

—As told to Brian Droitcour