Likeness redefines ‘portrait’
Among the mirrored rooms of the Mattress Factory, multiple artists have collaborated to unveil their portrayals of post-Warholian human depiction. In short, Likeness is anything but boring. Don’t expect to see formal paintings of royals dressed in glittering garb; instead, modern technology and limitless creativity bring this series of art to the white-washed brick rooms of the North Side gallery.
Jim Campbell, one of the artists featured in the exhibit, incorporates strings of LED lights to produce his “Liz Walking: A Distillation Portrait.” With alternating flashes of the LED lights that hang about an inch from the wall, a shadow is produced that looks like a person walking, but never moving forward. So deceiving is this shadow that one standing from a distance might think there is actually someone walking in place behind a white sheet.
Even as visitors travel from floor to floor via elevator, the art never leaves. On the ceiling of the elevator, a screen of monochromatically shaded LED lights (“Fathers of the Elevator,” also by Jim Campbell) forms the faces of several U.S. presidents, looking down on viewers as they descend to another floor of interesting pieces.
Paul DeMarinis’s piece, titled “Dust,” should be classified as “living art,” considering a big part of the artwork involves a transformation. Here’s the process: Pictures of missing children paired together are scanned onto phosphorescent powder, which is able to conserve light and can therefore project a negative of the image. The powder doesn’t last long, though, and as the minutes pass, the images warp and distort, eventually disintegrating to the dust they were formed from.
“Self Portrait as a PowerPoint Proposal for an Amusement Park Ride,” by Jonn Herschend, tells a story by giving the spectator a realistic environment. The exhibit features a room with a running PowerPoint presentation, a “Wet Floor” sign sitting beside buckets catching water from a seemingly leaky roof — which you’re not entirely sure is part of the piece — and a janitor’s closet slightly ajar.
Joseph Mannino’s series “The Space Between,” features dozens of photographs, each of a single person with letters written on fingers or knuckles, and an overall aim to blur the separation among artist, subject, and audience. The photos are cut in half, thus creating two images, with some displaying phrases like ”stay true,” “wet dreams,” and “got milk?”
Other pieces in the exhibit include Tony Oursler’s “Vampiric Battle,” where he recreates our obsession with looking younger and the measures we will go through to get the desired effect. Nikki S. Lee’s “Layers” series features a drawing of someone of a different ethnicity layered over a drawn self-portrait. Greta Pratt’s digital print collection, “Liberty,” features everyday Americans dressed as Lady Liberty and working so they can come closer to the famous American dream.
Take a trip over to the Mattress Factory, check out the work of these seven artists, and your definition of “portrait” will never be the same again.