Barbara Ellison

Phantom Portraits

[Dynamic images]



Our brains do not give a truly objective and accurate representation of the world but a human one – full of pattern recognition – sometimes real, sometimes forced. Humans naturally and regularly experience Pareidolia (the psychological phenomenon of perceiving patterns in randomness) and in way so can computers.Phantom Portraits are created from a process using software to generate generations of random polygon structures and then employing face-detectionalgorithms to scan the polygons until the computer “sees a face”. These polygon structures are then worked with in subtle ways to heighten the illusion. From up close, they are quite abstract and blurry, but from a distance they can appear to be strangely lifelike.

The Imagined Body / The Projected Body

Given a random pattern and incoherent data, the mind is driven to make sense of something that has none. What we perceive as real, as concrete, as finite must be re-evaluated in light of the fact that we constantly fill in what we do not know with what we already know.



Barbara Ellison (Ireland) is a sound and visual artist living and working in The Hague. Her recent work explores a liminal world of perceptual ambiguity and our propensity and desire to detect meaningful and often illusory perceptual patterns in our environment. Her performances and projects manifest in diverse media and platforms and working practical research has brought her in recent years to the Arctic (2010), Amazon, Brazil (2011), Svaneti, Georgia (2012), Borneo (2012), Cambodia (2013), South Africa (2013), Iceland, Australia (2013) and Japan (2014). She has just submitted her PhD Research “Sonic Phantoms” to the University of Huddersfield (UK).