Spirit is a Bone




Even our faces belong to the public domain now. Using facial recognition technology created in Moscow, artistic duo Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin developed a series of portraits from contemporary Russia. The portraits are, the artists explain, “essentially three-dimensional data maps rather than photographs per se”, information structures that can be rotated in space on a computer screen. The creation process of these images is significant, moreover, because they can be taken without the subject’s participation – the engineers who developed the software even called them “non- collaborative portraits”. The camera uses four lenses working in tandem to generate an image of the subject’s face, head-on as though looking into the camera, though he or she need not even know a picture is being taken. Labelling each portrait with the subject’s professional station, like “Nun”, “Boxer”, “Engineer” or “Magician”, the artists present the portraits with an indexical quality that echoes August Sander’s seminal work People of the Twentieth Century, albeit with a modern, dystopian twist.

Spirit Is a Bone was included in the books section of GUP#48, Mixing it Up.