Some time ago, The Postnational Monitor, a personal blog focused on “a wide variety of topics to include, but not limited to history, population genetics, and sociology” posted dozens of composite photos of varying geological and ethnic populations, creating an average face for each category. While most categories are a simple comparison, some are surprising social findings, such as the average Indian Female and Indian Male, compared to the average Bollywood Stars, pictured above.
While obviously interesting from a ‘population genetics’ (no sarcasm meant – simply clarifying the author’s, and not this writer’s, term) and anthropology standpoints, the pictures are certainly more novelty than profound statement. However, the composites do resemble more serious artworks by other artists, which begs the question: At what point does machine or computer-created photographic manipulation become art?
South Korean artist Do-Ho Suh was perhaps the first internationally-recognized artist to experiment with the idea of composite photography. Suh, whose work often deals with the homogeneity in Korean culture created two pieces in 1997, ‘High School Uni-Face: Boy’ & ‘High School Uni-Face: Girl’, to illustrate the literal uniformity in the Korean educational, military and overall, society. By compiling the photographs of his own classmates, Suh is able to create an average Korean, a standard that can be either accepted or rejected.
Slightly more light-hearted is Richard Prince‘s appropriation titled ‘Jerry’s Girl’. In a continuation of his rephotography technique, Prince overlaps every girlfriend of eponymous character Jerry Seinfeld from the popular television comedy. Collectively, it shows a flippant review of beauty and casting-types in the 90′s, as well as remaining true to the vision and style of one of contemporary cultures most influential voices. (via PetaPixel)
And perhaps that is the end of the strictly Art-world comparisons. Some projects like Tieman Rapati‘s Composite Self-Portrait (above), made of 500 photographs of a single face, could be considered a digital extension of portraiture, and perhaps even more complete portraiture, as it includes time as an element. (via PetaPixel)
If this is true, however, would every Youtube age-progression video be considered a work on par with Do-Ho Suh’s societal commentary? And then as the slippery slope goes, every photo, selfie or CCTV shot? Perhaps we simply wait for another artist to reinvent the genre, adding in the necessary personal and narrative elements that separate every day objects from the extraordinary works we call art.
Peruse more The Postnational Monitor composites, and leave comments below.Average Female SpainAverage Male SpainAverage Saudi Male Average Israeli MaleGolden Age Leading ActorModern Age Leading Actor