People You May Know

The boundaries between beauty and the uncanny can often become blurred, and an image may simultaneously appear aesthetically compelling and yet manifest closer to unease or horror than to beauty. Photographs are indexes of the real - to look at a photograph is to seemingly look past the photographic frame and into reality. However, we are not challenged by a photograph in the way we are challenged by reality; we can look upon a photograph without consequences, and look, and look again. The same can be said about the digital world in which we spend so much of our time; a previous distinct boundary between public and private is becoming increasingly blurred, and is replaced by an uneasy addiction to the virtual reality of the Internet.

This work aims to challenge the ease with which we often look upon photographic representations of people, and to question our understanding of reality. By digitally manipulating the faces of my subjects, I introduce an unsettling element into these images, one that makes them no longer so easy to look upon, and yet not so easy to look away from either. The digital manipulations in these images are at times evident, at times not so; they evoke the multiplicity of selves that are engendered by the Internet and social media. These images fix viewers, holding them in place, cycling them between beauty and horror, between the real and the unreal.

- o.j., 2015