Transient Self-Portrait

Mencia, Maria [Artist] (2015) Transient Self-Portrait. .


Transient Self–Portrait is an interactive work exploring ways of reading in the electronic medium, while investigating concepts of the digital self through coding for interaction aesthetics and poetics. I have taken as the point of departure two pivotal sonnets in Spanish literature that are normally studied alongside each other. One by Garcilaso, a 16th Century Spanish poet, using Italian Renaissance verse forms, poetic techniques and themes and the other by Gongora, a 17th Century Spanish poet from the Baroque period. Gongora’s sonnet is a homage to Garcilaso’s, edicating this sonnet to him around 60 years later in 1582. Although both sonnets deal with concepts such as the ephemerality of life, fragility, transient entities, time and consummation, their styles and cultural aspects are very different reflecting the attitudes from each of these periods. Being the Renaissance more optimist than the Baroque, Garcilaso refers to ‘the pass of time’, while Gongora talks about ‘the unavoidable event’, producing two very different endings. My aim has been, following Gongora’s response to Garcilaso’s sonnet, to respond to the cultural aspects of the sonnets, by questioning how these are reflected in the attitudes of a 21st Century mediated society and the digital medium we inhabit. The work follow these enquires creating a fluid portrait encapsulated inside the medium, with the use of a webcam, generative text and sound- to bring up notions of the digital/data self, the fragility of technology, new media tools and coding. In the piece we are faced with ourselves. Grabbed inside the work. We are inside the poem. The poet reads to us and we read to the poet. We perform the poem. We become data behind the camera, behind the screen. This is part of our identity and cultural aesthetics. The work is translated in three languages and has three stages.

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