A 19th Century Expression of a 21st Century Technology Asking a an Age Old Question
by Leo Selvaggio with Contributions by Alex Borgen
2013, DNA embedded hand-made paper, cyanotype print, inkjet transparency.
“Who am I?” How identity is formed and expressed is at the core of the human condition and central to my practice as an artist. Humans have identified themselves based on a series of criteria since perhaps the beginning of civilization. Whether, based on geography, gender, language, ability, profession, age, skin color, sexual orientation, political stance, personality or any other point of comparison, we are inherently always part of some of these identities and not part of others.
My work explores a fairly recent standard: identity as data. We each exist in some form or another as information: Facebook profiles, tweets, selfies, that video our friend took of us snowboarding, marketing profiles made about us by corporations, our credit scores and buying habits, etc.
URME BLUEPRINT presents a 3D digital model of my facial identity, which is a direct translation of my physical referents into data, polygons, and cell shade values. What does it mean that my identity can be quantified, measured, and as an extension reproduced? In order to explore these questions I turned to an old technology that concerns itself with reproduction, the cyanotype. As photographic process, the cyanotype was originally used to reproduce technical drawings, or blueprints. Lastly, URME BLUEPRINT attempts to contrast this technological measure of identity through the juxtaposition of a biological blueprint: my hair embedded into the image’s substrate.
At the installation, the viewer is asked to flip the mirror and look at themselves with a 3D transparency of my face overlapping their own reflection and ask themselves the following questions: Flip over the mirror, and look at yourself. Are you quantifiable? Are you aware of the information in the world about you? Are you the generator of that information? Can you be reproduced? They are then encouraged to share their thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leonardo Selvaggio is an interdisciplinary Artist based in Chicago IL. . He received his BFA from Rutgers University ’06 and is currently enrolled in Columbia College’s Interdisciplinary Arts and Media MFA program. Selvaggio has shown work in New York, Chicago, and was recently one of four .net artists represented at Prospectives ’12 New Media Art Festival for his work YouAreMe.Net: an interactive online project which examines identity and social media through the lens of open-source methodology.
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Alex Borgen is an interdisciplinary artist working with written and spoken word, sound, performance, video, artist books, and handmade paper. She made the paper for this work, URME BLUEPRINT. Her work has been exhibited at Collins Library at the University of Puget Sound, Kittredge Gallery and the Karpele’s Manuscript Museum in Tacoma, Washington, and Solid Ground Studio in Chicago, IL. She is also the founder of the Papermaker’s Garden, a multi-disciplined, urban green-space that is used as a papermaking fiber research field-laboratory in Chicago. Borgen is a Nakane Aiko Award Fellow, and recipient of the Caxton Club and Getz Graduate Awards. She currently teaches Undergraduate Papermaking at Columbia College Chicago.