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Erik Berglin & Clement Valla
Photography generated by customized computer algorithms
It is well known for art historians and theologians, that many sacred icons that have been celebrated and worshipped in different religions, are claimed to not have been made by any human hand. Faces of Christ, portraits of the Virgin, Veronica’s veil; there are many instances of these icons that are supposed to have fallen from heaven without any intermediary. To show that a humble human (an artist) has made them would be to weaken their force, to sully their origin, to desecrate them.
/ From What is Iconoclash? by Bruno Latour, 2002
Iconoclashes are made using all the images from the Metropolitan Museum´s public web archive that are tagged with the keyword God or Religion. These images are fed into Adobe Photoshop using a automated script that randomly creates mashups of deities, talismans, stella, gods, scribes and statues. At first they seem like typical museum object, easy to parse and forget, but then you realize you have no idea what it is you’re really watching since it’s an algorithm and not a human that has created the image of this virtual artifact.
The result is quite disorienting, causing a moment of puzzlement making it hard to read the images. You have to pause and try to figure out where they belong – what time period, what culture, what religion. On a sensory or phenomenological level they’re ambiguous since Photoshop makes them look like so real, but the space, the colors and the physics just don’t add up.