After my last relationship ended, I found myself with an archive of personal photographs depicting a person I no longer thought I knew or understood. As time and distance slowly separated us, I began to look at this mysterious record of intimacy in a different light. Using digital tools, I created new images where my former partner’s previously recognizable photographic identity was either removed, concealed, or at least partially obfuscated — visually mirroring the arc of loss and disappearance I was experiencing. These images use as base materials various scans of blank graph and architectural papers, patterned in high resolution. While they are recognizable as portraits, they are also collections of dizzyingly detailed visual data. For me they are portraits where the physical structure of some previous moment, or some previous human gesture, has been preserved and rebuilt in such as way as to reclaim my full authorship of an experience that was once highly specific and patiently collaborative. Each one is an attempt, in other words, to examine and reclaim my vision, especially of events and persons I no longer fully understand.
More recently, I’ve been creating new portraits layered underneath scans of optical test patterns and children’s illustrations for visual illusions. My fascination has lodged itself around trying to create dense digital prints that simultaneously hide and reveal some aspect of identity.
I’ve become especially fascinated by the ways in which my perception, most notably of those I love and have loved, often turns out to be illusory and confounding. What I am trying to memorialize, perhaps, is that very plasticity: how our view of a person (or a thing) is always somehow mutable — first of all by choice, but also through shifts in perspective, or changes in context, history, and time.
“Beth and The Alternatives” @ Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles.
March 5 to April 18th 2015
Details available on my site: http://matthewswarts.com/news/