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Zoom Portrait/IRL


Digital video

2:34 loop

Zoom Portrait/IRL, 2020, digital video, 2.34 loop.

This work began as an exploration of my experiences of body dysmorphia and dissociation, and utilises self-portraiture to explore the construction of perception and identity in relation to digital technology. While taking part in online classes during Auckland's Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown, I became aware that to some degree I was acting for the camera, controlling the way I wanted myself and my environment to be seen even in the most personal spaces and moments that one would otherwise assume were natural and unfiltered. At times I found these selves recognizable, and at others not.

My intention was to explore the construction and perception of the self in a humorous way, as well as how digital technology mediates these processes – what we choose to project and perform for an audience and how the presence of the camera influences our actions. The work draws inspiration from artists Tomoko Sawada and Petra Cortright, specifically their use of self-portraiture and moving image in the exploration of selfhood. Jean Baudrillard's theories on The Panopticon and simulacra were also key influences, as was Penelope Umbrico's practice of creating works from digital, vernacular image series.

The clips that feature in the work were filmed over the course of two days, often within a few minutes of each other, and using a smartphone, webcam, or Zoom to do so. These tools were intentionally chosen to reflect the accessibility, portability, and aesthetic of the video call, as well as the prevalence of this technology at the time during the lockdown. Changes in clothing, environment, visible objects, actions, and facial expressions were used to imply a spatial and temporal distance between each figure from one another, as well as the interaction with a non-visible screen or host, and minor editing was used to create the illusion of different times of the day. As such, the boundary between what is "real" and performative became collapsed and blurred. Within the work, I feel I am simultaneously both myself and an actor in each frame.

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