Electro–Physiologie Series, 2015 - 2016
After “The Workings of Human Physiognomy” by de Boulogne and Tournachon
I rediscovered the source images used in this series of ink on paper drawings at a portraits exhibition on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015. The exhibition included selections from an 1862 photographic portfolio titled “The Workings of Human Physiognomy” by the French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne collaborating with the photographer Adrien Tournachon (brother to the better known photographer Nadar). I was stuck by the strange intersection of science and art, a theme I have explored in several of my public art commissions. These pictures reflected a space where the intersection of scientific inquiry, time, condition and context have come to be accepted as “high” art. I was once again intrigued by how the actual display of the objects in the art museum atmosphere affected my response to the object and image. I was interpreting the image through the lens of the museum.
My completed drawings, when combined with the laser cut text, became a new index of the original indexes. I created hand made illusionistic pictures that mimicked the original photographic plates. In addition each drawing includes representations of a set of reflection accents, representing points of light that are painted over the drawn image. These accents depict the gallery lights as they appeared on the picture frame’s glass. These pinpoint illuminated interruptions reinforce the indexical nature of the drawings and the effect of the institution display.