on being dispersed

subject: unique jenkins

wardrobe: chelsea bravo

makeup and hair: natalia carrasco

space: metropolitan museum of art, greek wing


photographer note:

this experimental set of photos is inspired by the following imaginaries:

the ontology of digital bodies.

– specifically, images dressed as photography that live on the digital plane of existence. what is the ‘becoming’ of the digital image-body that is the representation of a material body, this thing that takes on a life of it’s own, in a digital world that is increasingly indistinguishable from the material one? is it merely data-object? or is the physical body the data against which the digital body measures itself? a new binary emerges: online/offline

optical dispersion  and other visual aberrations as examples of different ways of seeing (vis-a-vis the modern gaze)

– seeing temporal and spatial self-differentiations as opposed to pre-presented unities. we typically only see surface outlines of bodies, not the movement of innumerable layers that synthesize into a single form. dispersion plays with the notion that there exists within the unitary image, multiple sources of self-differentiation. disclosed in the dispersing, each dispersed layer is a plane of overlap/connection with other self-iterated bodies within that same space.

fashion as exemplary of the banality of individuality  within the context of surveillance capitalism.

– hypothetical: ‘fashion’ embraces the nihilism of an existence where the freedom (in terms of a body’s capacity) to individuate/differentiate one’s self from all influencing forces is impossible– one does not stand out from the masses, one is only incorporated into it, whether as consumer, as mirrored image of one’s digital composition, or as data. capital, style, control, agency are all inexorably intertwined; the amalgamation of all these is expressed in and as fashion– that which binds us in an economy of (colonized) desire, and the perpetual deferral of it’s fulfillment. query: how does the body reconfigure fashion, transmuting it as a function of a body’s movement with time (aion as opposed to chronos), rather than fashion being merely a function of desire (in terms of a binary lack/accumulation)?

eurocentric standards  pertaining to fashion, architecture, and image-making technology.

– the dominant mode of seeing today– of experiencing and relating to the world visually, via the gaze (not just naively male, but  modern)– is an attitude inherited from a eurocentric tradition traceable back to platonic idealism. this collaboration with unique was an experiment to explore if such dominant eurocentric sensibilities and attitudes could be made simultaneously obvious and inconsequential through the activation, and incursion of conflicting, over-determined, and over-layered elements.

subjectivity  and the problem of representation.

– assuming the precondition of a negative binary, can the subject of an image resist being reduced to an object? or does all the semantic power reside on the side of the viewer? in which case, can the viewer’s gaze be affected by the subject long enough for the gaze to shift into a more empathetic mode of perception? i’m of the mind that ultimately these are not necessarily the best questions asked. rather than musing on impressions and effects, i want to shift focus away from the fear of an objectifying gaze, and instead aim towards the empowerment of the subject, viewer’s gaze be damned. to this end, i kept my direction to a minimum in order to allow as much of unique’s own energy to be transposed on screen as possible. and in post, maintained a dialogue with unique to reconfigure the images in ways most aligned with her subjectivity, that expressed her fluidity most adequately.

– all this ties directly into the  image as place, the image as arguably among the most highly contested spaces there is. all participants in this industry hold sway over the content/substance/style/etc of the image, everyone often except for the subject. whatever the advertising, marketing, fashion, product, or whathaveyou, the narrative that is rarely told (if even possible) is that of the subject’s. given the limitations of the medium and it’s penchant towards digital clarity, formal reduction, and the isolation of time, the image-subject exists as disembodied idealization, i.e. as mere representation. all to say, nurturing a non-binary, non-objectifying, and  dispersal  relationship between photographer and subject lies at the core of my ethics, and is something i attempted to put into practice here.