Carlo Van de Roer‘s Portrait Machine series is a special kind of portrait photography. De Roer’s portraits are of friends, family, and well known personalities (you may have recognized Miranda July in the first photograph) with a Polaroid Aura Camera. Related to spirit photography, Aura photography uses electromagnetic readings to create the “auras” of colors in the photographs as well as a report explaining the reading. Though the process, readings, and reports are hardly scientific, they reveal much about how much we invest in portraiture. We continually attempt to translate an inner person from outer appearances, particular from a person’s face. The aura photography further reveals to what extent each person can be a mystery to another, even between those familiar to each other.
Miranda July, author, director, actress, photographer, master of capturing pre and post pubescent awkwardness, and as a character who has risen to status somewhat similar to that of a cult icon…has done it again. Our friend Graham at Future Shipwreck has written a nicer summary of her project than I could ever…so here it is! “In the language of cinema, extras are designed to be forgotten. Miranda July’s recent series of photos (a collaboration with Roe Ethridge), in which she unthinkably excavates background players from historically popular films and poses herself in homage to these bygone human props, is a declaration of war on the finality of culture. She dares to reverse the mandate of natural selection.” I wonder though, how she chose the particular films and extras that she did. Were they just arbitrarily picked? Or did she think aesthetically about which movies and which scenes from those movies that the most interesting looking extras?