The idea of the Self Portrait » is the fruit of rAndom International’s research into representation, an exploration of the issue of the passage from silver-based photography to digital. With the emergence of digital technology, the image has lost its value; it is reproduced to infinity and has lost all physical reality. The digital file exists only virtually, and photographs are printed increasingly rarely. In this experience proposed by rAndom on the theme of the self portrait, there is a critical moment where the look sends back a mirror image of itself and time suddenly freezes. Through a complex process, the wall installation proposes a sequential oeuvre. After a blank moment when the image is taken, the surface of the installation appears like an image in a developing bath in a laboratory, and then disappears forever. The onlooker-actor is thus confronted with a disappearing experience, with the decadence of the image, the vacuity and obsolescence of the time spent posing.
The installation questions both the traditional concept and content of the portrait as preserving memory through image making. Rather, it creates an elusive presence of entropy. A self-portrait now becomes a profoundly selfreflexive experience which illuminates the poignancy of the lost moment and the impermanence of existence.
The piece follows an aesthetic of presence and erasure that rAndom has developed over the years through a variety of Temporary Printing Machine installations.
Florian Ortkrass and Hannes Koch were both born in 1975 in Germany. The two met at Brunel University, graduating in 2002, before going on to study at the Royal College of Art. They founded Random International in 2005. Based in London with an outpost in Berlin, the studio today employs a large and diverse team of creatives.
Random International is a collaborative studio for experimental practice within contemporary art. Using science to develop a new material vocabulary, its work invites viewers to consider the man/machine relationship through explorations of behaviour and natural phenomena. In more than a decade since the studio’s inception, the focus of Random International’s artistic practice has continuously evolved, and today it embraces sculpture, performance, and installation, often on an architectural scale. Their highly collectable work creates a bridge between objects and products by merging monumental design, graphic artwork and technology.
Their Swarm Study series recreates the migratory patterns of birds using light. Using a digital algorithm that simulates the way insects swarm, the light installations chart birds’ flight trajectories through flashes of light. The viewer is invited into a responsive relationship with the work as the movement of the swarm illuminates the exhibition space.
Their critically acclaimed installation Rain Room is in the collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Art and has also been shown at London’s Barbican (2012); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); and Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2015/2018). An edition of Rain Room has become the first permanently installed artwork at the Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE (2018).
Their work is also found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum London, the Sharjah Art Foundation Sharjah, UAE, the Maxine & Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art Detroit, the YUZ Foundation Shanghai, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art LA.