Project statement below
The Media Portraits are images that have been mediated through a variety of electronic devices, including televisions, computers, still cameras, video cameras, and cell phones. By retaining the clear evidence of their travels from one electronic source to another, they expose the extent to which we are creating our identity in these media.
The writer N. Katherine Hayles asserts, “It is no longer possible to distinguish meaningfully between the biological organism and the information circuits in which it is enmeshed.” Although this may be an overstatement, it is a useful one, since it accurately reflects the direction that society is moving. The artwork greets this realization with a strong sense of ambiguity and paradox. On the one hand, the telltale color and texture of flickering lights on the screen demonstrate the extent to which we present ourselves as “surface,” and the fact that the images are many times removed from the original source conveys a sense of detachment, isolation and confusion. The portraits are fragmented and sometimes blend with broadcast imagery, suggesting that the pace and complexity of the media are harming our ability to form a workable and healthy concept of the self.
On the other hand, the work acknowledges the allure and possibility inherent in a shift from a material body to a cyberspace body. For example, a post-human, cyborg existence might enhance our ability to survive in the face of serious environmental threats or to overcome race and gender differences. Moreover, the vibrancy of the images suggests that we have the capacity for growth and change, even in a complex and mediated environment.
This artwork is fundamentally a product of current technology and a musing on the role of the individual in contemporary culture. But the work also contains clear references to other historical moments, including impressionism, pointillism, and cubism. The digital artifacts call attention to the way our brains form a recognizable whole out of a network of separate units, in much the same way that impressionism and pointillism did with brushstrokes or patterns of dots. In the tradition of cubism, the images expose more than one vantage point at a time and exist on the very edge between representation and abstraction.
The project includes three portfolios. The Broadcast Portraits were originally captured from television broadcasts and then mediated through a variety of additional electronic devices. The Broadcast Self-Portraits blend images of the self with broadcast imagery, suggesting that our identities are awkwardly pieced together from disparate electronic sources. The Media Self-Portraits are also mediated through numerous electronic devices, emphasizing the manner in which more and more of our personal identity is formed in cyberspace. All of the portfolios allude to the fact that our online or electronic identities are not entirely our own, and might be hacked, tampered with, or be the subject of disinformation.