Digital Portraits of Transculturalism - London

We are happy to announce the ISEA2011 Istanbul Pre-Symposium Event Digital Portraits of Transculturalism - London, a one-day event taking place at the The Centre for Creative Collaboration, University of London on February 25, 2011, under the aegis of Goldsmiths College and Sabanci University. The symposium is also supported by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) and sees as partners The Arts Catalyst, SCAN and the Leonardo Electronic Almanac.

The event will form part of an international series of conferences in London, New York, and Istanbul. The symposia are the starting point to generate a discussion about the digital portraiture internationally and in response a series of digital artworks and curated exhibitions will complement the conferences.

Digital Portraits of Transculturalism - London will be preceded by a conversation on digital identities taking place on February 24 and realized in collaboration between The Thursday Club and the Leonardo Electronic Almanac. For further information click here.


Symposium Abstract

In a globalized society where the access to technology allows the re-definition of who we are as well as the choice of the arena within which we wish to play - from second life to teenagers' web communities - the construction of a personal identity is shaped not only by the physical environment in which we live but also by the virtual spaces in which we dwell.

Web communities and social networks defy political, cultural and religious controls offering to a new generation of individuals the expectation that the real space should provide the same degree of freedom of the internet - a space where sexual, cultural and social customs are defied in semipublic and semiprivate spaces.

This new type of interaction challenges our existing understanding of identity and this symposium is looking to research the affect this has on the understanding of portraiture.

What: A one day conference, Digital Portraits of Transculturalism - London.

Where: 16 Acton Street London Greater London WC1X 9NG just down the road from King’s Cross Station. Nearest tube is King’s Cross.

When: February 25, 2011 - from 10am to 7pm.

Free Admission


Symposium Program

10:00 - 10:15   Registration

10:15 - 10:45   Welcome: Lanfranco Aceti, Sue Gollifer and Julianne Pierce

10:45 - 11:30   Digital Identities: Portraiture and Data - Helen Sloan

11:30 - 12:00   Identity Correction - Nicola Triscott

12:00 - 12:15   Break

12:15 - 13:00   Chasing Mirrors: Portraits of the Unseen - Janis Jefferies and Alinah Azadeh

13:00 - 14:00   Lunch

14:00 - 15:00   Portrait as Possibility: Charles A. Csuri's Early Computer Art - Janice M. Glowski (via Skype), Chuck Csuri (via Skype)

15:00 - 15:45   Data Expressions - The Networked, Real-Time Portrait - Christiane Paul

15:45 - 16:00   Break

16:00 - 16:45   Immaterial Portraits: Across Borders - Beryl Graham

16:45 - 17:45   This is not me: Comments on algorithmic portraiture - Frieder Nake

17:45   Final Comments: Lanfranco Aceti

18:00 - 19:00   Beryl Graham presents her book: Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media
Christiane Paul presents her book: Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts


Speaker Abstracts

Immaterial Portraits: Across Borders

Beryl Graham

Artists using new media are familiar with the strange dislocations of online media. Heath Bunting, for example, has worked on several projects which deal with immigration, physical border crossings, and immaterial access to online data. His recent The Status Project can map individuals by the network of data needed to establish legal identity.  The ability of new ‘locative media’ to trace objects and people across space, has also been examined by the Virtual Migrants project. How then, have curators and artist used these media for deep explorations of identity across space and time?

Portrait as Possibility: Charles A. Csuri's Early Computer Art

Janice M. Glowski

When artist Charles A. Csuri began making art with a computer in 1963, he often used portraiture to explore creative possibilities in the new technology medium.  In the process, Csuri created an intriguing body of early computer portraits.  The faces and forms that comprise this unique collection are, at times, representational, deliberate in their historical referencing (e.g., After Paul Klee, 1964 and Leonardo I - III, 1966).  Elsewhere, they offer only categorical allusion to a "bearded man" or an "old woman" (e.g, Since Curve Man, 1967 and Aging Process, 1968).

This paper suggests that, when viewed together and within the broader context of his art and life, Csuri's early portraits become emblematic of the artist's process and enduring creative concerns.  Rather than simple portrait drawings on plotter paper, the images illustrate Csuri's search for meaning through the exploration of randomness, uncertainty and infinite possibilities.

Chasing Mirrors: Portraits of the Unseen

Janis Jefferies

Chasing Mirrors: Portraits of the Unseen was an installation of work by contemporary artist Alinah Azadeh and a collective of young people from Brent, Barnet and Ealing who share an Islamic heritage. The installation at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), London explored the 'unseen' inner self through non-figurative portraiture thereby challenging traditional western portraits that feature the image of the subject's face.

Alinah Azadeh and Janis Jefferies will present a discussion based on their conversation at NPG on December 9th 2010 which will reflect on what constitutes a portrait in the age of social media and how hybridized identities are being redefined within cultural, national spaces.

This is not me: Comments on algorithmic portraiture

Frieder Nake

If you had enough money, you commissioned a painter to do your portrait. Later, you went to a photographer's shop and had your picture taken. Now you sit at your home desk looking towards a hole in your laptop's monitor and press a key; afterwards you photoshop the pixel array resulting from this act. This is the machinization of portraiture. Having your picture taken is much more complex: it is image, video, text, and data. Dangerous. Digital culture takes away your control.

Data Expressions-The Networked, Real-Time Portrait

Christiane Paul

Digital technologies have profoundly changed traditional notions of the portrait on both the 'material' and conceptual level. The portrait as a composed artistic representation of a person that expresses personality has increasingly been turned into a data representation-composed of pixels, broadcast over "social networks" and establishing contexts for its subject's life. The talk will outline the changing concept of the portrait-from static image to networked, real-time, 'tagged' data representation-using portraits by artists including John Gerrard, Carlo Zanni, Eva and Franco Mattes, Shilpa Gupta and Ursula Endlicher as examples.

Digital Identities: Portraiture and Data

Helen Sloan

Recently Helen Sloan has been curating and researching the role of data manipulation in the visual arts. Some of this work has looked at data that is specific and unique to the individual subject. This paper will introduce techniques using motion capture and tracking, high definition and image manipulation that expand the definition of portraiture through characteristics such as gesture. Most of the artists are working at the boundary of still and moving image and these approaches are producing new representations of identity and likeness.

Identity Correction

Nicola Triscott

In the work of activist-artists The Yes Men, 'identity correction' is the tactic of taking institutional logic to its rational extremes in order to expose the realities of corporate capitalism and corrupt political regimes. Identity correction is achieved through fake corporate websites and by giving talks at conferences or to international media, masquerading as representatives of the target corporations. In this presentation, I will particularly highlight the Yes Men's use of identity correction in relation to racism in international corporate activities. I will also reflect on the potential for arts- and media-based 'identity correction' to counteract unhelpful and destructive stereotypes and misrepresentation of other races and cultures.