As digital cameras and their cell-phone-affixed counterparts continue to grow in ubiquity and facility, and as more and more people use these devices to transmit daily personal updates, in the form of pictures of themselves and their activities to personal Web-based facades like Flickr and Facebook, a new technologically informed obsession with personhood—either one’s own or someone else’s—dubbed “egocasting” by cultural critic Christine Rosen, has taken hold in our culture. It resonates particularly well with the young, overly self-aware members of society. An apt art theorist should remain attentive for signs of this new phenomena reemerging in the work of young contemporary artists; the lay art theorist may claim that portraiture is, by now, a pervasive and eternal tendency.
The Co-Prosperity Sphere, Bridgeport’s hip and somewhat secluded multi-purpose alt-space, recently hosted nine artists in an exclusively portrait-based exhibition titled “Transplant Reflect.” The work is unusually divided between two different approaches: technically refined photography and Pop-surrealist street art. Anna Shteynshleyger updates Man Ray’s photograms using the camera-less photographic process to capture images of individual hairstyles, suggesting that an entire personality may be reduced to the shape of a haircut. At a moment when self-design has become the norm and conformity is unequivocally shunned, we are perhaps nothing more than our outward appearances. [Read more…]