Carlo Van de Roer
Carlo Van de Roer
M+B is pleased to announce The Portrait Machine Project, an exhibition of new color photographs by New Zealand photographer Carlo Van de Roer. Van de Roer’s images combine lush romanticism with striking intimacy, creating an immersive visual experience that dazzles the eye with its attempt to capture the unseen. The exhibition opens April 16, 2011 and runs through May 14, 2011, with an opening reception for the artist on Saturday, April 16 from 6 – 8 pm.
The images in The Portrait Machine Project function as robust examples of the way photographs represent not only visual moments, but also the complex and ongoing relationship between artist, camera and subject always at play in portraiture. Created using a Polaroid aura camera developed in the 1970s, Van de Roer’s photographs of friends and personalities of public note—including artists Miranda July, Aurel Schmidt and Terence Koh, as well as author James Frey—draw on traditions of portraiture and spirit photography as they examine classic photographic interests. Designed to capture a subject’s aura in the same manner as a psychic might perceive it, the camera translates biofeedback into near-fluorescent colors that engulf the subject in the resulting Polaroid, as well as a computerized print-out analysis which interprets the subject’s potential, present emotional state and future possibilities.
The Portrait Machine Project explores the scientific authority of photographs by parodying the indexical, objective nature of other biological imaging systems such as x-rays. The artist mines the (in)ability of photographs to represent the real and the reassertion of analog photographic processes in the post-digital age. This objectivity problematizes our common understanding of the artist-model relationship by undermining expectations of artistic authority and control. The mechanical nature of the aura camera removes a measure of artistic manipulation and suggests that the camera itself offers its own interpretations, independent of the artist’s or subject’s expectations. As the artist himself puts it, “The tension between the subject and the camera’s interpretation of them is interesting. I am including subjects whose personalities or jobs deal with identity.” By including well-known personalities, Van de Roer asks what it is a viewer wants from a portrait, particularly a portrait of someone they think they know. Ultimately, The Portrait Machine Project functions as an exploration of the possible truthfulness of images and to portraiture’s ability to in some sense accurately represent the character of the sitter.
Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1975, Van de Roer received a BFA from Victoria University before working and exhibiting internationally in the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France. Van de Roer has received the ADC Young Guns Award, the APA Silver to Pixels Award for Fine Art, the PDN Pix Award, named a Top 50 Photographer by Photolucida and received the Honorable Mention for the BMW Paris Photo Prize in 2010. His work has drawn notice by The New York Times, INTERVIEW magazine, Vogue Italia, Wired magazine and NPR. Van de Roer currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and this will be his first exhibition with M+B.