Detail from a video portrait of Erin & James McGirk show a woman and man in minimal detail, 'posterized' with analog image processing technology by media artist Benton C Bainbridge
Benton C Bainbridge: Gilroy Video Portraits (Erin & James McGirk), 2022 [detail]

video portraits

post-internet portrayals

Benton C Bainbridge's ongoing exploration of an old artistic tradition in a young medium. Portraits in motion empower sitters as co-creators and capture kinesthetics of subjects. Bainbridge's hardware-based image processing functions as electronic makeup and pixelated costuming, yielding rough-edged yet idealized portrayals. Portrait sessions are held in public spaces with many sitters; thus, collections of video portraits collectively become portraits of communities.

Bainbridge began making video portraits in 2012, as the word "selfie" entered our vocabulary. Inspired by Warhol's film portraits as seen in Chelsea Girls, Benton used video projections to light his sitters, expanding the live lighting tricks that Andy Warhol employed. In lieu of gels and gobos manipulated by hand, Bainbridge used VJ tools to paint his subjects with light.

In 2013, five dozen VHS Portraits at Eyebeam were shot during a month-long residency. Participants were able to play each others' portraits by selecting tapes from the growing library.

A commission from Deutsche Bank yielded Bainbridge's self-portraiture installation for Frieze Art Fair. Picturing You premiered in 2014 as a two-person interactive artwork in which two guests would portray each other using custom software and iPads. Picturing You was then reworked as a single channel artwork and exhibited at Everson Museum, Bandung International Digital Arts Festival, NACC in Bangkok and many other showings.

For his 6th Street Studios residency in Gilroy CA, Bainbridge expanded the video portraiture series with a collection of analog video synth modules for image processing without a computer. Visitors were invited to sit for portraiture sessions, and to learn about the tools Benton used to make video portraits.

Media artist Benton C Bainbridge sits on a table filled with video synths in a studio residency at 6th Street Studios & Art Center in Gilroy. The photographer's torso can be seen on screens in the room, as she was captured by the video portraiture setup.
Benton C Bainbridge at 6th Street Studios & Art Center (photo: Ashley Nguyen)