My first interest as an artist was in sculpture, I liked creating tangible, three-dimensional objects and worked almost exclusively in wood. In 1985 my work evolved into Performance Art. I spent the next ten years creating wearable sculptures and performing across the United States and in Europe. Over the last five years, my interest in the computer as a visualization tool has transformed me into a digital artist.
My Left Hand is a series of images which appear photographic, but are not made with a camera. My hand, like an actor or dancer performing on a stage, assumes a pose and then moves. The poses and actions my hand makes are not on a traditional stage but a digital one, a flat-bed scanner. The scanner digitizes and documents my actions as static computer image files. While most digital images rely on software to manipulate and distort a still image, I am interacting with the image-capturing process to manipulate and distort how digital technology perceives and records visual information in real time. In effect, I am using a scanner as a camera and exploiting the way a scanner "sees."
Issues of identity and expression are explored in Head Shots, a series of self-portraits about personal emotional states. In these images my highly expressive facial "poses" are grossly distorted to heighten the natural expressive quality of the face. These distorted self-portraits are both disturbing and appealing. The self-portraits are created by exploiting the way "technology sees." I place my head on a flatbed scanner bed and interact with the scanning process. The resulting images offer insights into both my identity and the imaging ability of current technology.
My digital images have grown out of a deep interest in technology, but my previous work as a sculptor and performance artist is also a factor. I was originally trained as a sculptor. In 1985, while I was working on a static figure sculpture, I realized that if I could put myself into my sculpture and create a sculpture that I wore, I could install my sculpture anywhere. This was the start of a performance art project that grew and developed over the next ten years. In that time I would wear sculptures I made and install myself, my art, in various museums, galleries and urban environments. The museum self-installations were unannounced visits to a museum wearing my sculpture. I simply walked into a museum wearing a sculpture. Once in the museum, I would install myself in a gallery and interact with the art on exhibit. (photo by Blaise Tobia)
Men In Suits followed the first wearable sculptures made of wood and fabric. In these pieces, I coated men's suits with silicone rubber. The Philadelphia performance, Men In Suits, The Commuters, was the first time I had a group of people wearing my sculptures. The living sculptures performed in several downtown Philadelphia locations. Interacting with people in real time added an exciting element to the piece. The more I performed the more I realized that the series of sculpture/performances had to do with issues of identity; the identity of the artist in relation to his art, male identity, society identifying objects as art, context and identity, interaction and identity. (photo by Blaise Tobia)
In my recent digital images, I recapture the excitement of an unpredictable interactive street performance by treating a flat-bed scanner as though it were a stage on which I perform. Now, I am exploring my gestures, my objects and how technology identifies and images.
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