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Digitally-Manipulated Portraits Turn Bodies Into Swirling Abstractions

Chilean artist Jon Jacobsen's digitally-manipulated portraits explore the interplay between relationships and experience.

This article was originally translated from The Creators Project Mexico. Images courtesy of the artist.

Chilean Jon Jacobsen once captivated us with Present, his animated photography series. But Maps, his first solo exhibition, presented introspective works reflecting the ways in which we perceive our own senses.

Inspired by childhood memories and the ephemeral nature of time, Maps consisted of eleven digitally manipulated portraits, a series of surreal images that reflect the artist's past relationships with each of the subject in the portraits. With a resultant dialogue that exists between the photographs and the present, it becomes apparent that Jacobsen is concerned with the interplay between individuals and experiences over time.


On the work of Jacobsen, art historian Bernadette Mandiola notes:

Jon Jacobsen is an observer of humanity. He look, photographs, digitizes, re-photographs, and through that art, succeeds in showing his gifts as an artist and keen observer. Since his beginnings in photography, he has worked on the subject of the portrait, always of participants isolated in a time and a story. A story that audiences of his work imagine themselves in and add to their own personal memories…

Jacobsen's work references a Surrealist aesthetic, but is far from Surrealist; rather, it is a personal work of the mind and feelings, and how he perceives the sitter. This is seen particularly in his self-portraits in different periods of his life, which reflect different emotional states. The same happens in Maps, and here Jacobsen portrays people who have some kind of personal connection. 

While, given the images presented in the exhibition, "Maps" may seem like a disconnected title, Jacobsen explains he chose the name to reflect a process of "mapping the feelings and wishes of the sitters." Adding digital manipulation processes to reveal what is beyond the original photograph, Jacobson explains, "The color, the textures, are endless possibilities to transform mixed with a traditional approach to photography. The tension between the real and the imaginary generates my interest in further exploring the digital format."


Despite this, it is important to note that the work of Jacobsen isn't just about digital manipulation, because his compositions feature glimpses of historical portrait techniques that allude to the Renaissance and the Baroque; in short, both technical and aesthetic dialogues between past and present make the work of this artist so special.

Says Jacobsen, "Maps is an invitation to see the self-portrait from another perspective. Each image shows somebody I grew up with. What they taught me, what happened before my birth, and my personal experiences all influenced the person I am today. These works interpret the invisible fabric that unites us in a temporary space, and form the basis of the roads that guide my work."

Below, more images from Jon Jacobsen's exhibition, Maps:

Maps opened on Thursday, August 21, 2014. 

For more from Jon Jacobsen, visit his website and follow him on Twitter  and Facebook.


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