Article Title

Hang With the Dude

Document Type

Forum Theme 1


The Greeks created idealized versions of themselves. But what good is making a perfect body if you are still schlepping around in the frumpy one you were born with?

In 2002, I designed an idealized version of myself that was wearable. The Dude is cool, hip, young and buff and not afraid to unleash his inner geek. He is totally at ease with who he is. In short, he was just what I wanted to be. And you may notice he is also short because I have honestly never had a problem with my height.

The Dude got around. He would show up on campus between classes. He attended Sci-Fi conventions. He went to a basketball game and the supermarket. Whenever I was The Dude, I felt confident and carefree. Other dudes wanted to hang out with him. High-fives all around. Chicks who liked those dudes liked The Dude too.

I began photographing The Dude in situations that seemed appropriate for the young, hip, slacker persona that I, in my responsible, overachieving obsessive-ness, had always both scorned and envied. The Dude likes to hang out and have fun and his friends like that too. He has that devil-may-care attitude that I always cared too much to have.

The photographs were recently displayed as part of an installation in the 2006 Faculty Exhibition in the UNI Gallery of Art. The installation featured the photographs tacked to walls painted to look like giant comic book panels. The Dude's world also included two couches, TV, DVD player and video game console. A collection of super hero action figures and stacks of comic books completed the scene. Visitors to the gallery could hang out and watch movies or flip through the comic books. The Dude would appear for a couple of hours each day and do the same.

This piece serves as a backlash response to my new position as Acting Department Head with all its responsibilities, worries and neckties. More than ever, what I really want to do is sit on the couch and watch movies, read comics and play video games. Throughout the month, like Superman, I exchanged one suit for another and hung out.

Publication Date

Fall 2006

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©2006 Jeffery Byrd



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