Talking about Scanface
In advertising, you have one brief, one need, and you try to look for the idea to help the brand engage with people. That idea has to be direct, concrete and the most important thing, it has to work.
Currently, I am in a position I’m used in advertising, but not that much in other fields: to write about a work that is not giving a solution, but a reflection.
To talk to someone before writing. In my case, it’s crucial. There are few ideas that come to my mind at the same time I say it loud. Deep inside of me, I know I’m interested in those aspects, but if I don’t share it with anybody the idea starts to go numb. I need to talk about it to unblock my mind, and go on.
Moreover, it’s important to choose the right person to talk to. It has to be someone with skills, sensitivity, criteria and who knows which are your interests. That person doesn’t have to just say what you want to hear. The brutal sincerity helps a lot. Usually, this person is my girlfriend, Gemma, but this time I Skyped with a friend and colleague, Jesús. He was asking me about different aspects of the project, and I replied with my arguments. After a while, he asked for more details. I explained more angles about the process that I was interested in. Suddenly, I realised that there might be new ways to evolve the project. It helped me a lot to see new perspectives. There are few ideas that are hidden inside and need to go out in a casual chat.
Writing the document about Scanface
Last week I sent an email to a well-known blog about creativity in Spain called Yorokobu (in spanish). I told them that I was working in Scanface. The Chief Editor answered radiply, asking for more information about the project, doing some questions that made me think a lot about what I was actually doing.
The post can be read here: http://www.yorokobu.es/caras-espachurradas-entre-lo-digital-y-lo-analogico/
To start, I thought about the structure of the text: First, my presentation. Second, the project: where the idea comes from, afterwards: the context, the subject, the process and finally where does it go. A GOAL.
It has been a good exercise to go deep in my practice. So I started defining myself. (Who I am, and what I do). At the time of saying that I am an artist, it makes me feel weird to say that, I’ve got too much respect for that word. So I said that I was studying art, that makes me feel more comfortable by the moment.
Where the idea comes from? It’s frightening to talk about it without looking silly. In this case, Scanface started like most of the ideas start: stupidly. In a boring and stupid moment, when I just scanned my face lots of times. It started with a “Why not?” moment. Lots of people have done this before with photocopy machines. Copying their butts. But in my case, after doing some scans, it started looking interesting.
The concept: I was surprised about the result after the scan. A flat image about me appeared. A 2D version of my face that looked like the textures that are used for 3d models. But in this case, there wasn’t any retouch, any postproduction. No Photoshop. It was done using digital technology, but through an analogue process.
The context: I’ve been researching about the Xerox Art, Copy Art and Electrography (as it is said in Europe). It’s remarkable the Xerox Book by Ian Burn. First, I was shocked by a project of Jenny Saville and Glen Luchford called “Closed Contact”. They used Saville’s body to create distorted, flesh looking bodies like if they were being done with a flatbed scanner.
Afterwards, I found other sources, like the exhibition “What happened to the pioneers?” Held at Gallery Arts Technologiques in Montreal in 1995. In their presentation, I found lots artists that used Photocopy as an artistic tool. I should highlight some of them, like Lieve Prins, Paulo Bruscky or Helen Chadwick.
I found an post-futurist italian artist: Bruno Murani, who published “Original Xerographies” about the motion in photocopies, but with an abstract approach.
In this bibliography, there’s a lot of information about CopyArt:
And this extended bibliography in Leonardo Online:
In this texts I have seen the explorations about distortion and transformation using photocopies and scanners. I want to highlight one article of Silvio de Gracia (in spanish) and his piece “Copy (right) Art” in 2010. And how he uses the “degeneration“, copying a photocopy, again and again.
In some artists, I have seen close connections between CopyArt and Mail Art and the usage of collage or painting on the photocopy, like it happens with Ray Johnson and many more. That made me reaffirm in my intention of not retouching the Scanfaces. I want to do the reverse way. Now that we have all the technology in our hands, I want to go back and use an analogue process to create a digital image.
My first voluntaries to scan their faces were my closest friends. Then I asked few more friends whose work I find interesting. But after that, I wanted to scan people that I admire like Joan Fontcuberta, Quimi Portet or Miguel Noguera. Here is London it is more difficult for me to
There’s a relation between the digital and the analogue. Making the portraits remind me to the journey of photographic processing. The scanner acts as the sensitive paper. I push the faces against the flatbed scanner, and then the image shows up. If the result is not interesting, I repeat it as many times as needed.
THE GOAL, or the evolution, or the next Steps.
Talking to Jesús, I realised how interesting was to see the image of the light of the scanners sensor passing through their faces, and also, a strange situation that happens during the session, specially with the people that I admire. The situation is that I need to push their faces against the scanner to do the portrait, because I’m used to the speed of the sensor. I was surprised about the image that comes from that action, because there’s a subtile submissiveness between the person I’m scanning, and me. There’s a deal of confidence in order to have fun and create an artwork. There’s a power-role game that maybe can be interesting.
Now, I’m preparing a document for an exhibition proposal in Arts Santa Mònica Museum in Barcelona. After the first writing to Yorokobu, I think that Scanface has to evolve, to go further. Maybe this pictures will help me to find the way. While I’m writing the proposal for the Museum, I’m developing what can be this second step in the project.