Citing the iconography of Adam and Eve, from Masaccio to Albrecht Dürer, Tamara de Lempicka to Grant Wood, I organize the computer desktop into a digital Eden in which an enhanced literacy of possible body-concepts metamorphose our associations with man and woman. [continued below]

 

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WE, visual essay, digital, original dimensions as exhibited 63 x 62 inches, 2013.

 
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WE, him panel, visual essay, digital, original print dimensions 27.5″ x 63″, 2013. The spacing between the above panels has been modified from the original for web viewing.

 

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WE, her panel, visual essay, digital, original print dimensions 27.5″ x 63″, 2013. The spacing between the above panels has been modified from the original for web viewing.

 

In the contrast of the high-resolution nude and the lower-resolution amateur naked self-portrait, I classify a body honed through constant labor, the assistance of means and conspecific, and frequently ameliorated by youth, pharmaceuticals, and/or technology, with the 2D iteration of ourselves, member of our community, or peer on a distant side of the globe. Synthesizing found images from the virtual biosphere, I investigate our yearning for the ideal human form, the impact of an internet-informed body-image on our perception of and attitude towards our own bodies, and the discrepancy between an automaton of our projections and the majority’s everyday sensual experience of self.

In WE, variable surrounding atmospheres and epidermal complexions endeavor to form a cohesive oneness and similar phenotypes and compatible vantage points approach alignment. By distinguishing between subject and object, first and second person pronouns in image label, I negotiate the dichotomy between the object perceived and agent perceiving. Harmonizing image from nude beach and naked bike ride, street performance and nocturnal event, rite of passage and coming of age, all posted and shared, I actively acknowledge both my degree of separation from and participation with such content by incorporating my own self-portrait and designating it with the pronoun ‘I’.

With WE, I probe the enduring human need to be seen and heard, acknowledged and not alone, as well as our transcription of these imperatives in the online ecosystem and reciprocal translation of such data into the settings and preferences for our own behavior. Does a disassociation from our own agency and exhibitionist pathology emerge with increased exposure to the ideal? How do we resolve the parameters of self in a prolificacy of virtual and imagined otherness? Might an escalation in time spent online evolve a concomitant preference for or weighted attachment towards the digital population? At what juncture do self-defining assertions become mirrored repetitions, the socially acceptable socially expected? Are the distinctions between such forms of sexual expression more a matter of why than of what? If the target consumer of nude and naked informs the abundance of a genus of image as well as its rendition, how do the search parameters for these images delineate or even shape a viewer’s consciousness? And is the application of first person an act not only of agency but one of courage?

Pursuing in visual form the literary tradition of such works as Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, through WE I survey how imagination qualifies desire, the peril of assembling world to mirror fantasy, the wounding of a reality that fails to live up to fiction, and the empowerment in a preponderance of choice. In interplay of thesis and antithesis, WE conjoins subject and object, first and second person, self and ideal, shared community and atomized individual, woman and man.

Artworks and essay copyright 2013 Devon Schiller. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “WE

  1. People spend an average of some 2.5 seconds looking at an artwork in a museum. I need art that makes me pause, makes me think. The artworks that have moved me the most pull me in and I stay silent for a while. When I first saw WE, I couldn’t talk about it right away. I was rendered mute. The words that first came to mind were ‘dynamic’ and ‘orchestrated’, and I found the images of peoples’ ‘shades’ both seductive and troubling. And WE is always moving. For a long time, all I focused on was that movement. The piece is utterly three-dimensional. I can see Devon’s training and experience as a dancer in it.

  2. I love the cool colors as they constrast and work with the warm skin tonalities in the WE series. The details, your choice of placement of the photographs and of how to overlap them, your use of negative space, and the extra elements of water, sand, etc. are thoughtfully composed. Bravo! The detail of “Adam’s” aged hip area caught me off gaurd and made me think of my own aging process and of the issues I am having with my own hip at the moment. The water flowing over “Eve’s” body, her right breast and the way her hair flows off to the right (left in photo) made me think of Botticelli’s Venus. A simple purity with a touch of sensuality.

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