Artist Ida Applebroog defines the term photogenetics as “a series of images produced through the crossbreeding of photography, sculpture, technology and painting.” Her latest body of work does just that.
Human eyes peer out from behind misshapen bodies and faces that create a new type of image that pools multiple mediums. The figures appear indistinguishable and yet familiar. The eyes and the mouth are most likely digitally cut from a photograph, a portrait of a human being, and pasted onto a new image. The work suggests the use of new image editing software that can distort images beyond recognition. These features offer the viewer an opportunity to humanize each figure by giving them a unique personality: humble, proud or vulnerable. Hand-sculpted clay forms the body with creases and crinkles that introduce new layers of abstraction. Some of the figures take human positions as they pose for the camera, one stands with his arms crossed with a look of defiance, others lounge with their legs spread to expose their deformed genitals. Applebroog augments each image with a painterly finish to further develop her cast of characters. She adds a full head of hair and a textured background to make each figure pop.
The artist welcomes innovation to the point of unease. She mixes mediums to create new forms of representation. Her figures suggest a feeling of isolation and hopelessness, desperate for a sign of affection or approval. The fragile, cheerless faces remind the viewer of the adult version of the Island of Misfit Toys, filled with sexual frustration and mounting insecurity.
In a world of digital selves and endless communication, isolation and desperation feel all too familiar. The generality of the figures can be made to represent everyone’s individual lives. The ambiguity of the characters leaves the question, where do we belong and where do we go from here?