Identity and Collaborations: You are my Canvas!

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This started with my interest in how people project themselves via social media. I was focused on the portrait and the self-portrait; how it has evolved and what it means in contemporary society being so easy to ‘snap’. The fact that everyone can take a photograph does not make everyone a Photographer. In the same way as the contemporary artist does not necessarily need to meet previously expected standards of technical proficiency and identifiable skill, the contemporary photographer may build a portfolio from appropriated imagery and images recorded on a low resolution digital device. My interest is more in how and why people record themselves and publish these images. In exploring this I have been painting on volunteers. The deal is that they volunteer and I will paint them, but they have no control over what I paint on them or how they look in the final image. It is interesting to see how many people have volunteered and I wonder whether this is in part due to a reliance on my being ‘kind’ in using them as a human canvas. It is also interesting that every subject thus far has really liked the results. I wonder again whether having been metamorphosed into MY vision, they see themselves as a subject, even on object, rather than viewing it as documenting ‘them’. The self remains in tact, unharmed. They are a performance, a character. This reminds me a great deal of Ways of Seeing by John Berger in which the very nature of how we see and what we understand about what we see is explored. How our culture affects the systems by which we ‘know’ ourselves.

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