29th July - 9th September
Gemma Mariotti’s work, Scans, revolves around the process of making images using a flatbed scanner, she is interested in the unique properties of this process and how they can be exploited in conjunction with portraiture. Although a scanner is not a conventional camera, her use of it is almost a literal simplification of the photographic process - capturing a subject and presenting them directly to the viewer.
Her images are both ethereal and hyper-real: incredibly detailed, but with an extremely shallow depth of field. The light that the scanner emits illuminates the subject evenly and makes for a low contrast image that manages to make reflective textures and surfaces in the subject feel incredibly three-dimensional. The slight compression and warping of the skin against the scanner glass creates imperfections that allude to her process, seemingly creating a direct interaction between subject and viewer.
Gemma’s experiments with this technique began as a pursuit of ‘otherness’, which collided with her continued interest in street portraiture. She takes her scanner onto the street and invites passers-by to be scanned. She is fascinated by the interactions involved in the capture of these images and the bemused reactions of the subjects who have agreed to participate. This is a relatively intimate process and her subjects are strangers; it is an experience that she finds both curious and conflicting.
The large prints and the luminous quality of the skin makes these images very seductive, one can examine these strangers in a way that is not normally socially acceptable. We have an insatiable curiosity about those around us; a lingering look over a fascinating face is something all of us have indulged in at one point or another. Yet we are rarely offered the opportunity to stare unabashed at the texture of a stranger’s skin, or the way light plays over strands of their hair or the grain of their stubble. However, here we are, an undisclosed amount of time after the image was captured, able to observe the subjects direct interaction with the ‘lens’ as if they were pressing against the other side of a window.
Gemma recently graduated from her BA in Photography at Camberwell College of Arts.