Cassandra Zampini: Data Mine at Rick Wester Fine Art

Art Scene

Cassandra Zampini: Data Mine at Rick Wester Fine Art

In a compellingly sublime take on the information overload of today’s social media landscape, photographer Cassandra Zampini has used formal aesthetics to examine the banal landscape of the selfie photograph. For her exhibition, Data Mine, at Rick Wester Fine Arts, Zampini handpicked 200,000 Instagram selfie images from her archive of 2.5 million to create seven large-scale vertical composite portraits.

Zampini’s choice to make the selfie images monochromatic and arrange them in tonal grids that maximize the interplay of whites, grays and blacks, imbues the work with an aura of sophistication and calm. In a sense, she depersonalizes each image by draining it of unique colorways, and creates a space for viewers to contemplate the phenomena of social media as an anthropological exercise. In short, Zampini creates a critical distance.

Cassandra ZAMPINI #flex, 1 Sec, 2018 (DETAIL). Archival pigment print, mounted to Dibond. Signed, dated, annotated ‘1’ and numbered 1/3 in ink on the reverse of the mount. Accompanied by a signed Certificate of Authenticity. 63 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches (161.3 x 97.8 cm)                        

Made of thousands of selfies organized by gesture and image upload times, the works are organized around familiar poses, including: the #preggo (the perfect baby bump/pregnancy angle); the #flex (a Popeye-style, bicep curl); the #sinkbooty (a shot focused on curvy derrières propped on the edges of sinks); and, the straight forward headshot. The number of images within each piece is based on Google data, which, as of two years ago, estimated an average of 24 billion selfie uploads annually—or 750 per second.

Cassandra ZAMPINI, #preggo, 1 Sec, 2018 (DETAIL). Archival pigment print, mounted to Dibond. Signed, dated, annotated ‘1’ and numbered 1/3 in ink on the reverse of the mount. Accompanied by a signed Certificate of Authenticity. 63 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches (161.3 x 97.8 cm)

Zampini’s titles include time markers that indicate the number of selfies included on average in each composite portrait. For example Data Mine, 2 Sec,includes approximately 2,000 selfies, estimating a probable average number of 1,000 selfie uploads per second in 2018. Other titles include: #preggo, 1 Sec; Sector 3, 3 Sec; and,#flex, 1 Sec. The variation in the number of images within each work adds rhythm and texture to the installation of the exhibition as a whole. 

Cassandra ZAMPINI, Data Mine, 2 Sec, 2018. Archival pigment print, mounted to Dibond. Signed and dated 5/18 in ink on the reverse of the mount. Accompanied by a signed Certificate of Authenticity. 87 1/2 x 52 1/2 inches (222.3 x 133.4 cm)

While, according to Zampini—who is not a digital native—the sifting through and resizing of images was a painstaking process, her research revealed how people are reaching out for connection through the visual language of the selfie. The repetition of poses, personalized and shared by a diverse mix of individuals, is an odd thing to behold when viewed as an object of study, however, it also offers a sense of control over the madness of social media.

Data Mineinstallation view. Courtesy of Rick Wester Fine Art.

Several of the works feature a gradient technique beginning in blackness, emerging into selfie grids, and fading out into blackness. The aesthetic is meant to echo the infinite scrolling that takes place on social media. It also offers the eye of the viewer a sense of rest and suggests the ultimate ephemerality of data. Zampini’s work speaks to the continued relevance of the human touch in the face of technological advancement; offering a glimpse of perspective, a touch of grace and a reminder of the beauty that can be found in art.

Cassandra Zampini: Data Mine is on view at Rick Wester Fine Art through October, 20, 2018.