Sunday, 01 May 2011

Jessica Trent interviews Carlo Van de Roer for his US Debut of "Portrait Machine Project" & First Solo exhibition at M+B gallery.

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Miranda July, 2009

Dear Diane, Dear Shaded Viewers,

As we know, auric energy has been discussed by nearly every religion for the past several thousand years. Many people today (myself included) still wonder, “What does a healer, mystic, or psychic see when reading a person’s aura?”  Tapping into this quest, photographer Carlo Van de Roer’s obsession is understandable. Though Van de Roer lives in New York, what better place than Los Angeles for his “Portrait Machine Project” to debut as both his first solo exhibition in the US and his first show with Benjamin Trigano's M+B gallery.

Some of you may have seen his work last year at Hyeres Photography Festival or at Paris Photo where he won the BMW Jury Distinction Award. Van de Roer also won both the 2008 and the 2007 PDN Pix Digital Imaging Award.

I hope you enjoy this interview and Van de Roer's work.  “Portrait Machine Project” closes on May 14, 2011. 

612 North Almont Drive
Los Angeles, California 90069


Jessica Trent

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Maris Bellack, 2011

Nearly every day for more than two years New Zealand-born Van de Roer photographed himself, artists, and friends such as James Frey, Waris Ahluwalia, Miranda July, and Terence Koh using an original tricked-out vintage machine called an Aura Camera. Guy Coggins, a California-based scientist, invented the device in the 1970s with some input from psychics. Metal handplates are connected to the Aura Camera to pick up on the subject’s vibe (or more technically, their biofeedback rhythms).  Not only does it produce a Polaroid of the subject, but also a computerized printout explaining the subject’s aura colors and predictions for the near future.

As noted, Van de Roer shot a self-portrait almost daily for a long while and each time he makes a portrait of someone, he also makes one of himself. In all of those different moods, times of day and seasonal temperatures, he says that all of his self-portraits are surprisingly similar. With that, I'd say any comparisons to a mood ring should be thrown out the door.

You may doubt the science, but it is hard to control the physiological response of your pupils as they dilate in delight to the beautiful and obsession-worthy depth of colors in these large portraits. The full impact is in seeing the works in person where they look almost like the richest of oil paintings.

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Yoko Okutsu, 2008

JT: In your other works there is still something ethereal and beautiful, but it seems much more precise, i.e. the placement of bright light or the floating orbs. Do you feel “The Portrait Machine Project” has made you more free? Is using the Aura Camera a bit of having let yourself go?

CARLO: It is letting go in a way. I wanted the camera to play a really controlling role and the aura camera was great for this. A lot of the technical controls I'm used to using with a camera were out of my control and the process of making the portraits became quite organic. It pushed me into a role that was less technical and more engaged with the subject.   

JT: On that note, have you tried to control the outcome of the readings and coloration? If a subject say runs in place for 5 minutes, is the reading any different?

CARLO: Ha, yes I’ve tried. I would first make a portrait staying relatively uninvolved, then become more involved in that power play between photographer, subject and camera, trying to control the outcome.

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Waris Ahluwalia, 2011

JT: Has anyone become upset with his or her reading? Has it ever been "bad?"

CARLO: People have come with expectations and been unhappy with the cameras interpretations, yes.

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Mystical & unifying. The printout of Waris Ahluwalia's portrait #1.

JT:  Have you ever visited a psychic or had your aura read in that sense? Do you yourself adhere to any particular beliefs of this sort of thing?

CARLO: No, not yet. I don't remember there being any psychic readers around growing up in New Zealand. I’m sure they were there but maybe there were out in the sticks, not sitting in storefronts the way they do here in New York.  I’d be interested in meeting the psychic(s) involved in the development of the camera I used.


(PS Below, a little momento snapped in the home of the Triganos who hosted a perfectly lively dinner after the opening. The Emperor & the Empress). 

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Thx Diane & Daniel!

Posted by: jessica | May 4, 2011 11:42:40 PM

Love this post!

Posted by: Daniel Trese | May 2, 2011 9:17:13 AM

Thank you, interesting read and I remember seeing his work last year. x

Posted by: diane pernet | May 2, 2011 8:17:28 AM

i believe have god in the world

Posted by: sexy corset | May 2, 2011 5:06:51 AM

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