FACE DETECTION

video performance, 5 forms of clay, 2018

Johanna Reich is clearly in tune with the present, on the one hand working deeply in the digital zeitgeist and rooted in its imagery, and on the other always questioning our illusory world as she incorporates analog elements and traditional techniques into her works. Starting out in painting, she also operates in the areas of film, photography, sculpture, performance and the public space.


Thematically, her work revolves around presence and absence, dematerialization and disappearance, the visible and the invisible. Who are we and what characterizes our identity? What marks do we leave on the place where we live? In the three works shown in the exhibition, an important part is played by the creative moment. In the video “Face Detection,” (2018) Johanna Reich tells modern-day myths. On a smartphone screen with the camera activated, we see two hands molding a lump of clay. A face emerges followed by two eye sockets, a nose, mouth and chin. After 90 seconds, a frame appears on the display and the clay model is identified as something human by digital face recognition. Harking back to ancient creation myths, a human being is formed out of clay – archaic modelling in the digital age. At what point during the molding process does a human life materialize? In order to be human, do we first have to be identified as such by a machine? The boundaries between reality and image become blurred as attention is focused on digital imaging, its manipulation and transformation.