Simon Pyle

My work considers vision, its records, and its representations in the networked age. The promise of digital media and high-resolution screens is to archive and display limitless records of experience. I seek out the visual gaps introduced by technologies of representation - such as the screen, the digital camera, the jpeg file - even as they present a hyper-realistic simulation.

One body of work, Quantified Selfie, conflates the selfie and surveillance technology. The surveillance sculpture uses facial recognition to detect and capture the faces of its viewers. A stream of receipt paper portraits accumulates at its base. Just as in the internet age adage “if something is free, you are the product,” the viewers of the piece become the product in a companion video of all of the captured faces.

The second body of work takes a close look at the dominant technology of visual reproduction: smartphone screens. I scale my photographs to a smartphone screen and then rephotograph them through a microscope, revealing the underlying invisible pixels. The resulting images straddle the line between abstract and figurative. Up close, they are abstract color fields, but when viewed from a distance (or through the screen of a viewer’s phone), the underlying image is revealed.

These are portraits of those killed by police in the US in the past year. I started making these as I considered the role of surveillance and self-surveillance technology in recording and calling attention to state violence. As a person's image becomes a signifier of larger social issues, the people behind the portraits disappear by the means of their depiction.


For more information about Simon Pyle, please visit his website.