Man grows old for his art

I acknowledge that with increasing frequency, I am shocked to see a stranger when I quickly look in the mirror. The aging man has been following me for some time and I do what I can to ignore him.

So I’m impressed — if not a little bewildered — by the lengths to which Karl Baden has gone to be sure he and you notice just how old he’s gotten.

Think of the things you set out to do every day 30 years ago and ask yourself how many of them you actually did.

Karl actually did take a photo of himself every day.

Including today. Looking good, Karl!

Why?

“In retrospect, it was the day after Andy Warhol died,” Baden tells the Boston Globe. “Growing up as a kid just outside of New York in a family that respected culture — my mother was an art teacher — I was very familiar with Warhol and his work … [and] his aesthetic was very much around repetition.”

He started his blog — Every Day — in 2007. There’s no writing on it, per se. Just picture after picture.

He’s 64 now and a professor of — what else? — photography at Boston College. Going to work each day and getting older.

“The idea is to make everything that I can control as similar as possible so that the only variable in the project is what I can’t control which is the aging process,” he said.

“It does not get in the way of my life in any meaningful way,” Baden said. “It’s like brushing my teeth.”

Aging is like that; it just kind of becomes part of your day.

None of his pictures show him smiling. Thirty years of staring straight ahead in the interest of art.

“I try to maintain as neutral an expression as possible,” Baden said. “I don’t want any kind of artifice or emotion to get in the way of pure information.”

He admits to missing one day — Oct. 15, 1991, a day that will live in Karl Baden infamy. He remembered while driving to work that he forgot. But then, forgot again.

He more than made up for that when he got cancer and was going in for cancer surgery. He left detailed instructions for a friend to take his picture if he couldn’t. But he didn’t need the help, even when undergoing chemotherapy.

He made that video a few years ago but it needs updating. He says he wants to put the whole collection on a video.

That will give us an opportunity to spend our life watching him get old, remind ourselves that we’re not getting any younger, and acknowledge that art is really weird.