Reconstruction Portraits (2008-2009)
Sites like Flickr and Facebook have profoundly changed our relationships with one another: in a geographically mobile society, these forums have created relationships in which low-resolution images and snippets of text are a primary means of communication. While screen-based friendships have their own kind of intimacy, their dislocation stands in contrast to friendships that grow out of shared experience or physical closeness. Often, relationships that were previously built on these more tangible foundations become frozen in time online, with typed exchanges and profile pictures substituting for physical presence.
With this in mind I set out to make a collaborative body of work, using these sites to create a kind of remote portraiture. My subjects are people I was close with during the formative years of adolescence and early adulthood – people whom I now know (or know of) primarily through social networking sites or occasional Google searches. My memories of these people are static; aside from brief notes and a few small jpegs, my sense of who they are is based almost entirely on versions of them that are at least a decade old.
In an attempt to connect the current, dynamic versions of these people with the static, idealized images of them that I hold, I asked these friends to digitally photograph a “reenactment” of a memory I have of them, usually centering around a gesture or an expression. Looking through the images of their faces and bodies, I have pulled from multiple images the most resonant details, using them as source materials for drawings and paintings. Through the act of translation to the more physical media of gouache, watercolor and oil paint, I am attempting to conjure up that physical presence that I miss, and at the same time explore the vagaries and inconsistencies of my own memories.