Mnemonic Forgery PLATE 15
1 guilty of forgery: counterfeiting, falsification, faking, copying, pirating.
2 the painting was a forgery: fake, counterfeit, fraud, sham, imitation, replica, copy, pirate copy; informal phony.
I have created images, nearly every day, for the past thirty years, as a working photographer. My photography has always been mainly focused on documenting and preserving disappearing realities.
The near-entirety of my work, including personal photographs, taken in the first twenty years of activity, on film, was wiped out in a house fire. Only memories were left.
Sex, Lies and Digital Tintypes:
This project wants to explore the concepts of time, memory and sexuality through re-photographing old prints with the most anachronistic-looking digital filter produced by the newest technology available today, hence reaffirming the sense of ephemeral behind an image and what it depicts.
Through this process I open a portal to an unexplored universe of images completely free from historical authenticity. They all are manipulated digital replicas of certain photographic frames I exposed on film at different times of my life, yet antithetical from the originals in every way.
Some of the images I re-photographed had been initially created on 8 or 16mm movie film-stock, others on 35mm, others in medium format. But what are they now? New digital images looking even more “vintage” and weathered than the original print or negative.
Time has been manipulated. Shamelessly.
The field of view and framing has been changed in these new “Tintypes”.
Often only a part of the original print has been captured, leaving out elements initially essential to the original image and to its interpretation, therefore creating a suspicious” mnemonic forgery” based upon a voluntary manipulation of the honest photographic evidence of my past.
The photographic “truth” is not here to be found anymore.
Most of the images are derived from nude and erotic stills / movie frames I worked on, many years ago, both in Europe and in the U.S.A..
Living in North America for the past twenty years eventually detracted me from this type of work, which greatly interested me in the past, due to the very different and perhaps less enthusiastic audience reception I found here, compared to Europe, as well as due to stricter censorship and self-censorship practices I eventually found myself to comply with.
I tried to symbolically depict my relationship with nude imagery in these new digital Tintypes by playing with two antithetical approaches: some images are voluntarily self censored, re-framed to only portray the “perception” of a hidden nudity, others just go to the other extreme, openly focusing on the very parts of the human body that are commonly labeled as “not safe for workplace”.
We could prolong this discussion endlessly and examine the endless meanings and implications the photograph of a nude boy might assume in different contexts, but this is not my intention. I simply chose to use nudity in this body of work to evoke the most basic human footprint attached to the concept of manipulation, forgery, counterfeiting of time, space, and ultimately, spirit, ego, and even sexuality; all elements I often perceive in today’s digital and “virtual” social trends.
As a technical note I might add that all these images were created with the iPhone camera, using an application called “Hipstamatic Tintype SnapPack”, which digitally tries to replicate the “look”, the lens distortion and tonal quality attainable with a vintage large format camera and D or C Type Plate Film. In other words, this immediately very popular “photo app”, selling online for less than dollar, fakes the look of a painstakingly long and difficult photographic process, originally only achievable with heavy cameras, poisonous chemicals and a great dose of skill and expertise.
What better, I thought, to depict the current relativism and rampant pursue for new, albeit virtual realities, than to confound and mismatch those once immutable concepts of human existence such as TIME and PLACE or reality, realism, truthfulness, veridicality and honesty, by creating fake vintage images with a camera-phone, while subverting and distorting all the “true” elements of the original photo and therefore giving birth to a dysfunctional clone, a distorted “replicant”, a perfectly credible and fit creature in a brave new world?