Systematic Portrait 4.a
“The series Systematic Portraits is a group of large-sized portraits of scanned passport photos, manipulated images that have resulted from the automatic destruction and pixelation of the facial futures and the synchronous enhancement of the holographic security detail that demonstrates the presence of The State.”
A passport photo is not inherently required to portray the owner of the document. It is the owner’s responsibility to resemble the photograph and the data. Otherwise, the person’s identity is not confirmed.
The ownership of the passport grants the individual the rights of residence, passage, and status that are denied to non-holders.
My own Greek passport allows me residency in the UK. This is perhaps subject to change in the near future with or without notice. The person that I am is not important. Only the origin of my state papers.
This uncertainty that all of a sudden we share about our future and our place within groups, be it ethnic, national, or more extended as in the case of being part of the EU, the West , minorities or majorities is a cause of great anxiety to people like myself (the Western Europeans) who would have never considered to be in danger of being denied passage or the right to remain. The images of refugees, the questions that have risen of who is allowed to stay and who is not welcome all end up on the non-inherent quality of what is the standing of the State of the issued passport. My official documents transform the space around me as home or as foreign.
Due to this uncomfortable reality, I decided to look closer at the document at hand. Passing through Border Control I always make use of the digital scanning, where a machine reads the date of my passport’s chip and then a high-resolution camera scans my face, height, colour to make sure that it matches. My instinct was to scan it myself with my scanner.
Instead of doing a straight scan, however, I decided that I wanted to turn on the Digital ICE function (automatically removal of dust and scratches). I was curious to see what part of my passport photo would be selected as “noise” by the program's algorithm. I started with the lowest setting and gradually turned it al the way to the highest. The result is the destruction and pixelation of the facial details and the synchronous enhancement of the holographic security details that demonstrate the fact that the documents belong to the state.
The current number of images in the series is constantly updated, adding the images from the passports of close family members and alternative takes. For the Celeste Prize, I submit Systematic Portrait 4.a from the series.