The idea of the photographic portrait as private, intimate, or truthful has become complicated with the digitization of cameras and the computerization of people, perpetuating and expanding upon the notion of personal memory manipulation; based on various motives revolving around the socio-cultural production and sharing of memory through photographic images, many people have now created and uploaded a digital copy of themselves to disseminate throughout the public, networked sphere. The contemporary portrait is now a digital file, or a rhizomatic network of digital files, composed of seemingly random codes of letters and 1’s and 0’s which can be changed at any given whim. However, this file is not the only manipulable object; we, ourselves, have become information to be encoded, spread, and manipulated. Photographer Fred Ritchin has claimed that “digital imagery spreads like a virus, invading all aspects of contemporary life so that everything (everywhere[/everyware]) from politics to particles becomes as easy to manipulate as a pixilated image” – and, “everything” includes us: as he says, “We are also changed, turned into potential manipulable image.” That idea of the human-as-data is what inspired this experimental video essay in which I am exploring that asymptotic gap between my “real" self and my digital/transcoded twin.
The following images are video stills from the piece, titled Overwrite (19:43). The full work can be viewed here.