My series Hemiptera combines still lifes with self–portraits to highlight common forms and patterns found across various types of flora and fauna while examining the fraught relationship between this interconnected natural world and our detached state of life.
I first became aware of the morphological similarities between different species of plants and insects while studying vintage botanical charts and early scientific illustrations of the Renaissance. Admiring their organic outlines, I started translating these flat shapes into three–dimensional digital sculptures: a frog’s cranial nerve resembling a blossoming stem, a moth’s sensory system parodying a fern, honey queen bee’s reproductive organs flowering atop a windowsill like a potted plant. These shapes transmogrify to emphasize unity of all biotic matter.
Like so many artists before me, I turn to the plant and animal kingdoms to understand my own place and function within the ecosystem. I began making self–portraits as way to reconcile the differences between my observations of the natural world and the current fragmented state of our environment. By arranging models of critters and floral anatomy around my body, I seek for a new meaning between modern man and his habitat.
The white glossy hands in my portraits replicate the gestures found in early Northern Renaissance paintings, retaining the awkward yet expressive anatomy of the period. Forget Me Not draws upon the Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family by an unknown Swabian artist, The Arnolfini Hand borrows the husband’s greeting gesture from The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck, while The Master mimics a section of an altarpiece by the Saint Bartholomew Master, and The Alchemist recalls an engraving from the 17th century alchemy book by Oswald Croll. By using the anatomy of my hand as a base for these 3D replicas, I draw upon the characters of the past to reinterpret and reimagine my own persona.
My process combines computer generated 3D sculptures with background plates to create images that extend the boundaries of traditional photography. Each model is a carefully sculpted digital mesh, referenced from a variety of sources. Textured with a porcelain–like finish, to imbue fragility, these forms are rendered to seamlessly match the lighting, perspective, and focal length of the environments they are placed in. Their incorporeal representations remain forever locked into a two–dimensional plane of a final exhibition print, combining lens–based and virtual photography techniques.