“In the present-day world of ubiquitous, low-quality cameras and the widespread unceasing memorialization of every insignificant moment, the photo booth remains an archaic shrine to the formalized capture of ephemeral moments. Its walled and curtained cell should by now have been doomed to obsolescence, but it remains a space of almost religious significance.”
Naomi Leibowitz, quoted in Photobooth: The Art of the Automatic Portrait, by Raynal Pellicer (2010)
The ‘Photoautomat’ takes centre stage, quite literally, in this project - a series of portraits of people having their photograph taken in an analogue photo booth. But unlike traditional portraits and identity photographs where the face is the focal point, these images are faceless, the subjects half hidden behind the black, concertina-like curtain. With no recourse to their facial expressions, we have to piece together imaginary pictures of their identities, based on what their clothing and accessories, body language and words signify.
But do the subjects treat the photo booth as a confessional or a stage? Are their words fact or fiction? And do these words complement or contradict the photographic language?
Photoautomat seeks to explore the interplay between visual and linguistic rhetoric and the effect on our reading of the image, as well as the themes of identity, performance and spectatorship.