Piece by Piece I Disappear


In Piece by Piece I Disappear, I use the obsolete technology of the Stereoscope to make visible the body parts that are erased through physical contact and overlap in vernacular portraiture. The slides I collected for this project underscore how easily a casually draped hand erases the two-dimensional shoulder beneath it rather than merely hiding it as it would in the physical world. Within this flattened space, the developmental theory of object permanence becomes suspended: each embrace, every family member that stands close to you, every child that you hold is another piece of you that is deleted from the archive. 

In this piece I imagine what the missing pieces of bodies in these images might have looked like if each person were captured in isolation. My source imagery is derived from an archive of stereoscopic slides, a cultural fad from the 1950s in which two separate images could be viewed through a set of specialized lenses to form a composite three-dimensional image. Working with the simultaneous parallel frames of these images, I digitally rebuild each figure and background as a separate portrait. When viewed through a stereoscope, the fictional body parts in these portraits become visible in a Venn-diagram-like visual and spatial overlap. We see these body parts both as newly revealed and as lost: newly grown legs, shoulders, stomachs, and ears stand in for the collective catalog of pieces given over to shared portraiture.