Portraits in Reverse

Few Notes on Empathy and Entropy

 Seeing Without a Seer, exhibition and symposium Looiersgracht 60, 20-30 September 2018 organised by Radical Reversibility



The surface of images is always double, and the same counts for visual experience. Photography as a medium is especially attuned to, and capable of creating and reflecting on this double surface. It captures, freezes the world and its visual texture into its perfect semblance and invites a particular kind of empathetic response. But extreme mimesis can also articulate itself into an act of mimicry, of blending with the immediate environment and disappearing in plain sight. The erasure of the distinction between figure and ground entangles our gaze in the effort to make a distinction, to see, to identify, to be certain. From empathy to entropy, from the family photograph and the selfie, to conceptual photography and the way it thinks its own conditions, from surface and pattern, to portraits of sleep, and blindness, the mask, to the photographic archive, and the atlas as its animation; all these photographic gestures articulate forms of visual thinking and invite strange form of empathy with images that simultaneously draw and resist the gaze.