One Year in the Life of David Chen


Here it is. After endless seconds recorded and a dozen hours of editing, I've finally completed this video that features one second for every single day of this year of my life. I don't know how much I have to add beyond the previous blog posts I've made on this topic, but a few lessons learned come to mind:

- The biggest challenge is to continue making seconds each day. It becomes exhausting to either a) create interesting moments, or b) find unique images in day-to-day life. As days went by, my motivation started to waver, as did my willingness to pull out a camera whenever something spectacular was happening. In these moments, I had to trust that the final product would be worth it. But to be sure, when I show this to people and they get excited about doing it themselves, the one thing that I warn them about is to make sure they have the commitment and discipline to take this project to its completion.

- On that note, recording food became a huge temptation. The reason for this is because if you think about it, food is one of the few things that is noticeably different from day to day, especially if you work a regular 9-5 job. It was an easy fallback, a crutch. As a result, more shots of food ended up in the final video than I probably would have preferred.

- Storing, organizing, and editing the video snippets became onerous. If you attempt this project, I'd strongly recommend you update the video every few months or so, rather than doing them in one fell swoop at the end. Cesar Kuriyama's 1 Second Every Day app apparently automates this entire process to a huge extent.

- Watching and editing this video was an emotional experience. I remembered profound moments that I might've otherwise forgotten. I re-lived moments of lasting significance. My heart broke while contemplating the connections I've lost, and swelled at the relationships gained. More importantly, the project encouraged me to try to live life to its fullest - to find beauty in every day, and in the subtle moments that we might not think of. I might not have always succeeded, but I tried. In the end, the production of the project became as worthwhile as the final product.

- I'm still looking for a way to go beyond this project. One Second Everyday can convey a lot, but I still find it restrictive and wish there were a better way to capture my life and the lives of those around me in a way that will result in a watchable, enjoyable final product. Oftentimes it's within significant constraints that art is made. I'm just searching and hoping to try out some different constraints in the near future (let me know if you have any ideas!)

- I've put together a version of this video that features a no audio except for a soundtrack backing it. I'll release it later. I'm pretty happy with the version featuring a soundtrack, but I think this version with audio is the definitive version.

- If I were to title the video, I'd go with this: Huge Stretches of Monotony, Punctuated by Moments of Awesomeness. Perhaps that's an apt description for many of our lives.

On a personal note, it's been an absolutely crazy year. I changed jobs, changed lives, changed everything I've ever known. The least I can do is thank the people who appeared in these seconds or made them possible. They have made my life in Seattle what it is and have inarguably changed it for the better.

4 comments :: One Year in the Life of David Chen

  1. Looks like an interesting and fun year David Chen.

  2. I was inspired by you to try one of my own and started at the beginning of the year, actually. I admit that I only saw it through one month and I still haven't even edited together that yet, but watching this is starting to stir something in me again.

    The reason I stopped is because of the exact reason you stated. "As days went by, my motivation started to waver, as did my willingness to pull out a camera whenever something spectacular was happening." The desire to capture a moment instead of actually living it made me feel weird. Also, the second series of Black Mirror had just started, which made me look at any kind of technology like it was the Devil.

    I must say, though, the end video you've got here is really good and it does look like it was all worth it! Nice job!

  3. Nice video Dave, looks like a good year.

  4. Awesome! My hat is off to you, sir. For perseverance. For great images and sounds. I haven't seen the version with a soundtrack, but I am pretty sure it'll be "wrong". The actual audio is great and it makes the entire piece so naturally rhythmic. Thank you.

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