Serving Abroad… Through Their Eyes, 2012

Serving Abroad, Through Their Eyes is a photo project and video artwork. It was created in collaboration with Art in Embassies, Department of Defense and the U.S. State Department. They commissioned Lincoln Schatz to create an artwork of the daily life of deployed personnel. It would feature the photos and audio of current and former military and Foreign Service personnel.

an American soldier in full gear sits looking through red webbed strapping, overlaid on top of scenes of military interacting with various people in the field as part of a collage for Serving Abroad... Through Their Eyes, commissioned by Art in Embassies
Serving Abroad, Through Their Eyes (Video Still)

The Process for Serving Abroad… Through Their Eyes

Schatz’s work debuted at the U.S Department of State in the fall of 2012. And then installed at the new U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

a father and daughter touch faces as they are overlaid on other images of military experience abroad commissioned by Art in Embassies and entitled Serving Abroad, Through Their EyesSchatz then recorded audio stories from personnel over the course of several months. Together with the photos, the audio would be edited and brought into Schatz’s custom software. Each time the artwork begins it is different from the last. Serving Abroad, Through Their Eyes, is a generative video work that pulls from thousands of files using algorithms to determine order. Because of this, there is no loop point. Instead the computer program creates a unique and never repeating portrait of service abroad.

A Collaboration is Born

This artwork is a landmark collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies program. First, active military and Foreign Service personnel submitted photographs illustrating their life and work abroad, with a focus on friendship, places, faces, loss and triumph. Finally, the panel of judges selected 161 finalists. Photographers then submitte audio recordings talking about their photos and time abroad. Learn more about the Serving Abroad program here.