Projects // Media Composites

In several closely related projects, I capture and composite online imagery to explore our deep immersion in electronic media, our attempts to forge an authentic personal identity, and our capacity for positive change in the contemporary moment.

In the “Twitraits” series, I use online image results to create composite portraits of America’s social media heroes — the individuals with millions and millions of Twitter followers. This series, which explores the online representation of personalities who are deeply enmeshed in electronic media, has important implications for all of us who increasingly use electronic media to forge our identities. The portraits allude to Cubism, allowing us to see an individual from many vantage points at once.

Two abstract series explore our troubled relationship with electronic media and its ability to provide us with reliable information about the world.  In the “Every Image” series, I visit the web sites of major online news sources and composite hundreds of images into a single abstract image that contains all the visual “news of the day.”  In the “Front Pages” series, I bring together 100 or more front pages of newspapers reporting on major news events and present them in a single “news tapestry.”  On the one hand, these abstract images call attention to the glut of electronic images in our daily lives and our inability to respond to them meaningfully.  On the other hand, they embrace the task of archiving every aspect of human experience, including war, politics, disaster, celebrity culture, religion, crime, sports, food, real estate, cars and pets.  The images contain traces of their indexical origins, including human figures, objects and text, but they are also seductively intangible and contemplative.  In this way, they transcend the mundane and the horrible to suggest medieval triptychs, color field paintings, or other spiritual impulses in art.

Composite images have a particularly dark past that includes a connection to eugenics, but they are now being used by artists to provoke a dialogue about the uses and misuses of imagery in our society.  We can only hope that this will point the way toward increasingly authentic personal expression and expanded democratic access.