Two Self-Portraits

These were created on invitation to make a work related to self-portraiture for Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses, a group exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery. The curator saw an earlier dbCinema piece I did called The Club that incinemates the faces of my favorite North American politicians, business men, and psychopaths. He asked me to do related work with photos of myself rather than Jeffrey Dahmer, Paul Wolfowitz, Russell Williams, George Bush, and the rest of that psychotic, murderous crew. Which seemed like a remarkably strong opportunity to at least make an idiot of myself.

Let me show you the ‘trailers’ to the two resulting videos. What I’d like to show you are slideshows made of screenshots from the two videos. The videos are made of dbCinemations/collages of 53 images of me from the day I was born to my current grizzled state at 53 years of age.  The Surrey show will run from September 15 (the opening is from 7:30-9:30pm), 2012 till December 16, 2012. The show was curated by Jordan Strom.

The first trailer is at http://vispo.com/dbcinema/selfportrait2/ index.htm?n=1 . The video of which these screenshots are composed used two dbCinema brushes. One of the brushes ‘paints’ a letter from my name each frame. The other brush paints a circle each frame. Each of the brushes (usually) paints a different photo. So we see two simultaneous photos of me being drawn. The man and the baby. Etc. A brush paints a given photo for several seconds and then paints a different photo. The slideshow is composed of 47 still images.

The second trailer is at http://vispo.com/dbcinema/selfportrait3/ index.htm?n=1 . The video used one dbCinema brush: a Flash brush. In other words, the brush was a SWF turned into a mask. The shape of the brush was a curving, undulating, rotating, translated line. Each frame of the video, dbCinema rendered one brush stroke, one rendering of the brush image; the curving line’s paint was sampled from photos of me. The brush would sample from a photo for several seconds before moving on to another photo. What we’re looking at here is not the video but 17 screenshots from the video.

In the main, the man does not cohere. No coherent person emerges from this process of forcibly joining / collaging / synthesizing / remixing these 53 photos of me. It doesn’t magically tell me who I have always been. Or does it? Or if not, what does it suggest? You could say “If you don’t know who you’ve always been, no piece of art is going to clue you in.” Well I do kinda know. On the other hand, I do seem to tell myself a lot of stories.

It seems what the self-portrait does for me mainly is to problematize the notion of the existence of a person whom I have always been. The images in the video are messy. Like birth mess. Perhaps that’s part of our discomfort in life. We’re always in the midst of our own birth mess. And death stink. As Bob Dylan once observed, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

5 Responses to “Two Self-Portraits”

  • I do like to study and learn. One of the most favorite matters is poetry.

  • aha ha haha ha jim

    liked you best in first trailer as a bearded baby, tho the bald cyclops was cool, too — good likeness, no doubt ;)

    second trailer makes you look a bit like a teleporter accident at the end of the remake of THE FLY — “help me” — cool stuff

    dbcinema is a remarkable work — kudos

  • These are quite beautifully creepy, Jim. The rhythm of the second, in particular, oh my. Of course I want to hear a sound track with it!

  • This was my first paid gig as a visual artist, Gregory. Previously, on the rare occasion when I’ve gotten paid for art, it’s been as a writer/programmer or something. So I am rather new to galleries and so on. This evening, I came across useful perspective on the whole project when I googled to see if anyone had written about the self-portraits. I chanced upon this: http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/here-we-are/Content?oid=1202629 . This refers to a different Jim Andrews. A visual artist. In a show on self-portraiture, just as is the show for which I was commissioned.

  • Ha, Ted. I just saw your comment now–apologies. Your comment made me bust a gut laughing. Ya. Bearded baby, bald cyclops, and teleporter accident. I was in serious trouble as soon as I agreed to use dbCinema on myself, ya, like the fly guy. The only way to redeem the project was to go way way off the rails past simple mash up.

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