Artist Focus: Matan Mittwoch
Matan Mittwoch’s installation ‘Facing Landmarks’ deals with the new technology of facial recognition based on information gathered on social networks or via smart CCTV cameras. A freely downloadable algorithm developed by the Chinese company face ++ is the starting point. While initially designed to offer new methods of payment, it now has much wider uses, from apps similar to Snapshot to CCTV cameras. Ranking systems rewarding and punishing citizens with regards to their behavior are already enforced in China. Mittwoch uses this facial landmarks-based algorithm as a starting point to create an installation challenging code as well as identity. He fools the algorithm by uploading a photograph representing a composite face. The facial landmarks extracted from the photograph are torn apart into pieces, recalling the keychain of a prison warden.
The photography series ‘Patterns’ examines self-representation and self-camouflage, doing so by re-photographing the profile images of users on dating websites who live in areas where the use of such platforms is forbidden or carries a heavy personal risk. Using encoded VPN technology (virtual private network), Mittwoch sets his IP address to a specified GPS location, coming into contact with other users who, from their side, apply a host of non-tracking plugins to camouflage their actual location and identity. The resulting images, now large- scale and abundant with visual data, conceal all the more the identity of the persona represented in them; it is as though the closest we get, the more the persona evades us. These profiles – born out of the need to participate in today’s online platforms despite social stigma and interdiction – manifest an alternative mode of asserting oneself in this world of global media.
Matan Mittwoch (b. 1982 in Tel Aviv) investigates the ubiquitous technological tools and the control appliance that they induce. In an era when everything has turned “smart”, when technology is part of our daily life, the artist analyzes these tools to understand their impact on our bodies, our emotions, our attention and our relationships to each other. In Mittwoch’s works, the mechanical eye competes with the human eye in a perceptual experiment. The technological tools which surround us become striking catalysers of forms often recalling the modern history of abstraction.