Iconoclashes

Collaboration with Erik Berglin

“As is well known from art historians and theologians, many sacred icons that have been celebrated and worshipped are called acheiropoiete; that is, not made by any human hand. Faces of Christ, portraits of the Virgin, Veronica’s Veil; there are many instances of these icons that have fallen from heaven without any intermediary.To show that a humble human painter has made them would be to weaken their force, to sully their origin, to desecrate them.”
—Bruno Latour, What is Iconoclash?, 2002

“Iconoclashes” are a clashing of objects in various time periods, in an assortment of cultures, representing a multiplicity of religions.

The starting point of these images is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s public web archive; specifically all photographs of objects tagged with the keywords ‘God’ or ‘Religion.’

These source images were randomly grouped and digitally merged with a Photomerge script inside Adobe Photoshop. The script is a common algorithm used to stitch separate images together into longer panoramas. In the case of “Iconoclashes,” the script attempts to blend these “God”-tagged images together, creating chimeric deities, hybrid talismans, and surreal stellae, gods and statues.

The “Iconoclashes” appear as a typical cataloging of a museum’s archive. The Met Museum uses standards when photographing their archive— all objects are presented on a generic grey surface, with similar lighting and they all occupy the same percentage of the frame, regardless of scale. The “Iconoclashes” exploit this styling; the photomerge script works only because of this stylistic consistency.

Yet these are not typical museum images; these are not objects that could ever exist. The images are smooth and photoreal, but the space, the colors and the physics simply don’t add up. Their strangeness is the product of an algorithm rather than a human creator.

more at iconoclashes.com