Light source, paper, markers, self, supplies. 2018.
Profile is an interactive and community-based work that asks participants to dictate the terms of their representation through silhouette portraits. For this activity, I contextualize a profile as a visual and digital amalgamation of a person, voluntarily created or otherwise extracted. This representation operates as cultural currency, leveraging more power than individuals themselves in today’s social media driven world.
During the activity, I trace each participant’s profile onto a piece of paper based on the shadow cast from a projected light source. Upon receipt of the profile, I tell each person they may do whatever they want with the paper. Various supplies are made available during each iteration to allow participants to change and alter their profiles as they see fit. Participants may choose to take their profiles with them or leave them behind.
Profile was implemented at San Jose State University’s inaugural Education for Liberation Conference in April 2018 as part of their after-party programming. Participants were provided historical context on profile portraiture’s use in ancient civilizations and its modern incarnations in physiognomy studies used to justify scientific racism.
Profile was also presented as part of Hybrid, a month-long series of programming at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose’s dedicated to exploring themes of mixing, combinations, and other forms of plurality. As an event dedicated to young children, the activity was adapted to the museum’s Art Loft space and reformatted to be conceptually appropriate for participants age 7 years and younger. Children were given stamps and assorted drawing utensils to populate their profiles with various characteristics that made them unique, from their names to native languages and varying notions of home.
Under the collaborative auspices of CDM’s Visual Arts Program Developer Heidi Lubin, the portrait activity was presented alongside an interactive sculpture adapted to the Art Loft’s existing furniture. The sculpture, with its alternating reflective panes, served as both an obstructive partition and playful viewfinder. Ringdown phones were placed on each side, further facilitating disorienting interactions between children and adults alike, extending ideas of object permanence to feelings about strangers, community, and family as it related to self-identity. Also, any excuse to transform a space into a fun house!
The program culminated in a Meet the Artist event with an estimated turn out of 400 people! Thank you to all our visitors and participants for contributing. Special thanks to Hope Nam, Heidi Lubin, Glen Tulloch, and CDM’s incredible floor staff for making this event possible!
Now... a small peek at our profile gallery.