KRISTIN McIVER: Data Portraits
KRISTIN McIVER: Data Portraits

Australian-born, New York-based artist Kristin McIver translates an individual’s ‘Faceprint’ data—a string of code used by social media hubs like Facebook to identify faces from online photographs—into a formalist aesthetic that leans toward geometric abstraction. McIver addresses the selfie phenomena and social media’s manipulation of technology to map and mine identities through these vibrant and unique pixel-like portraits.

The paintings in this exhibition derive their color palette from the original Andy Warhol “Turquoise Marilyn, 1964”. The gray Data Portrait paintings represent those individuals who do not have access to Faceprint data or have discontinued their Facebook profile, which wryly segues to her text neon work which proclaims, “Are You Still There?”.

McIver’s Data Portraits paintings serve as a central component of her new initiative, The Selfie Project, which examines personal identity and its relationship to social media, in particular the form of autobiography that uses biometric surveillance (Facial Recognition Technology) on social media networks.

McIver’s use of ‘Faceprint’ technology can identify faces with 97% accuracy, comparable to the accuracy of human visual perception. Much like a fingerprint, every individual has a unique Faceprint data string, so McIver could potentially create a Data Portrait for any person, with different visual results each time, including the data derived from identical twins.

By utilizing the string of Faceprint code, McIver uses the data in a number of artistic permutations that can range from sound works, large-scale murals, and botanical interpretations; or in the case of the royale projects exhibition, bright, pixel-like portraits on canvas. The series will include people who have experienced a certain level of fame, or ‘micro-celebrity,’ through their use or strategic leveraging of social media. These works explore and celebrate the relationship between new media and contemporary forms of celebrity. In this collection, McIver also appropriates both the scale and color palette and scale of Andy Warhol’s 1964 Marilyn series for her paintings, referencing Andy Warhol’s deification of the celebrities of his day.

Her portraits simultaneously become a pop minimalist celebration of individuality, while also questioning the pervasive corporate surveillance that now plagues modern living. This work emphasizes social media’s ubiquity, providing its participants access to generate their own mini versions of celebrity, thereby realizing Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame,” reinterpreted for the digital age as ‘everyone will be famous to 1500 followers.” The Data Portraits also highlight the ephemeral data collection and the dark underbelly of surveillance, enabled by advancing technologies as individuals share their information on social media platforms.

*Photos by Lance Gerber

Mural (Selfie), 2015 : Kristin McIver from royale projects on Vimeo.