Ten Diptychs | 2007
Ten Diptychs combines my fascination with the fingerprint and the photographic image as two sources of identity and identification.
As a child, before becoming a photographer, I wanted to be a detective. The idea of taking and relying on fingerprints captured my imagination. The fingerprint is perhaps the quintessential icon of identity. It is a unique mark that every human with fingers leaves behind. It is a mark whose structure follows the mathematics of the Fibonacci sequence. It can incriminate or validate based on its arches, loops or whorls. It is a mark inextricable from the individual, yet has little to do with their personality or story.
In 2006 my Porsche designed Lacie hard drive malfunctioned. It contained thousands of digital image files, the majority of which were from a documentary project I did in South Africa. I used data retrieval software to salvage the contents. Most of the files were fully recovered, but a handful came back dramatically corrupted.
What once was a coherent photograph was now splintered digital data, a collage of ones and zeros, a by-product of mechanical malfunction and algorithms. New fictions emerged from the corrupted files making it near impossible to draw conclusions about the original subjects in the photographs. The ambiguity I feel in using an image to identify a group of people was released and accentuated in these corrupted files.
I selected and printed 10 of the the most dynamically corrupted image files and paired them with a fingerprint I made of each of my fingers using an ink made from my own blood and gum arabic.
I titled the diptychs to identify two things: the generic, software-derived name given each digitally recovered file and the finger/hand that each of my fingerprints come from.
- Kate Joyce 2012