Human Factors - Richard Gray
Artist’s Statement (from Shift: Contemporary Photography Exhibition at Parkland Art Gallery)
Human Factors is a photography project that investigates the roles modern science and technology have played in redefining human identity and the contemporary self. Photography has been utilized in scientific research since its invention, primarily to capture phenomena or record details. Today, our expanding definition of art allow us to consider scientific images, not only as trusted conveyors of informations, but also as complex provocateurs of how we come to know ourselves in the bio-revolutionary age.
Humans have long contemplated the notion that life’s real secrets reside within the sub-visible.
In Human Factors, I photograph human cells with a microscope and combine those images with posed figures as a way of fostering a dialect between the visible and sub-visible. The figures, ovals, and markings in these projects refer to traditional framing conventions, early motion studies, or physiognomy research, further emphasizing photography’s historical connections to scientific examination… Today, the axiom “what you look like is who you are,” that so defined photography’s role no longer resonates as easily as it once did. Photography’s old proofs have given way to new systems of identification located in cell science and genome technology.
Paradoxically, appearances now seem more important than ever in an age of plastic surgery, the Photoshop “retouch” and Internet personas. Identity has become mobile, virtual, and ever-changing, a performance of perfection with our quest for perfection overshadowing the reciprocal value of the human flaw. First inspired by the U.S. Government’s Human Genome Project, I am interested in the cultural evolution of the photographic image and the influence current technologies have on our understanding of what it means to be photographed.