Mediated Presence- Skype Portraits and Animal Companions

Frieze exhibition of all new work presented by Istanbul'74 at 6 Fitzroy Square, London. October 2012

Slideshow by Ruedi Glatz from the exhibition dinner hosted by Stephen Fry, Skype CEO Tony Bates and Sir Norman Rosenthal RA here.

Some more photos from the dinner by Billy Farrell here.

And some pictures from the public opening on Getty here.


From the press release:

Mediated Presence: Skype portraits and Animal Companions is a series of portraits painted from the artist’s Skype-sittings with friends and a variety of stuffed toys. This latest work is a development of the artist's long exploration into the possibilities of distilling the presence of a live sitter, even when that live sitter is delivered to the painter via technological means. This project focuses on the essence of human engagement, the continued existence of warmth, the connection within new technologies of communication, and the nature of sympathy. 

The artist says of his work: 

“We all crave comfort. We all value good company. We value the intimacy of sharing everyday activity- even when half a planet apart. We use mediations like Skype to bridge space - and the time it would take to tackle geography- bringing dear ones close. 

As a painter dedicated to painting people, I feel much this way about the sharing of a portrait sitting; a couple of hours of acknowledgement of each others presence, a particular intimacy and comfort.
 Formally, I like the concept of combining this old-fashioned medium of realistic oil portraiture with the new medium of internet-telephony. I like the way Skype distorts planes and colors and provides me with a visual shorthand. The sitters are there with me the whole time.This year, my concept of good company expanded to include the contribution of the - technically - inanimate: faced with a number of cases of severe illness in my immediate family over the last months, cuddly toys became very prominent as media of presence, used between family members as ambassadors of comfort. They travelled with us, as transitional objects, binding together those parted by oceans, carrying and delivering love... 

In exploring this special bond further, I picked more "animal sitters" according to the particular charisma of their presence and their connection to my personal circle of friends and family. 

It occurs to me that we are all possible vessels of connection: a friend sitting down in conversation before us, just as a bundle of fiber fashioned into a vaguely identifiable different species. Tracking the energy of this sympathy is my particular fascination and delight."