Almudena Romero / Self-Constructed
We live in an ocularcentric paradigm where vision is the predominant form to perceive and receive information. Vision is central to our understanding, and since we increasingly interact with each other through visual platforms, the visual aspects of a person, their image, have become central to our understanding of that person.
Since its inception, photography has always been used to categorise and organise the other. However, today we might only be encountered and classified by the other through a visual network, and therefore, the desire to control and editorialise our narratives in these networks has exponentially increased. Selfies indicate the general desire to create and editorialise the visual narratives of the self.
The collodion process was enormously popular on the second half of the nineteenth century as it was faster and cheaper than any other photographic technique. It also allowed the first glass negatives, and therefore, the reproduction and spread of print images from one same negative. I see wet collodion as the smartphone technology of the nineteenth century, and the Carte de Visite albums as the equivalent of today’s Instagram feeds.
Are new photographic technologies transforming the notions of private and public, selfhood and identity, memory and documentation, humans and technology in a way that technological progress has not done before? Or is the purpose of technological improvement to challenge the concept of the individual
Self-Constructed and Self-Expanded analyse these questions and relate the widespread practice of taking selfies with the nineteenth century photographic process of wet plate collodion.
Self-Constructed is a series of self-portraits in which the technology involved in making a photograph is at the centre of the image. These collodion tintypes depict mobile phones, a shutter release cable or an analogue camera on an Ipad screen. The process of producing the tintypes of this series involves digital projectors, screenshots, glitched images and flatbed scanner-cameras. The resulting images contain both digital and analogue artefacts such as chemistry residue, dust, and digital noise.
Self-Constructed focuses on the physicality of the photographic medium and the image making processes. It examines the distinction between the self and the technological as something circumscribed by social values. We use image making networks to maintain social relationships, construct identity and memory, and to create culture and new understandings of the self.
The work examines the contemporary belief that everything that oneself is, can be depicted and classified under a tag. One’s possessions, food preferences, reads, experiences, friends, and, in general, one’s reality, is depictable and classifiable. The work explores this reduction of the self to depictable subjects, and subsequent roles such as “the staged self”, “ the performative self” or “ the technologised self”.
Born in Madrid in 1986, Almudena Romero is a visual artist is a visual artist working with a wide range of photographic processes from early printing techniques to new technologies including 3D scanning and printing. Since 2015, Almudena has shown and explained her work at institutions such as TATE Modern-TATE Exchange, TATE Britain, The Photographers’ Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the London Art Fair and the University of the Arts London, and delivered courses and lectures at National Portrait Gallery, the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, the Mapfre Foundation, the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, University of Westminster and Southampton Solent University. She has also received commissions to produce installations in public spaces from Team London Bridge, Southwark Council, Emergency Exit Artist, Wellcome Trust and University College London. Her work has been exhibited at galleries and festivals such as Brighton Photo Biennial and PhotoIreland, and has been published in TimeOut, DUST magazine, Uncertain States and Photomonitor.
Almudena’s practice uses photographic processes to reflect on issues relating to identity, representation and ideology; such as the role of photography in the construction of national identity, or the link between photographic archives and colonialism. Her work focuses on how photographic processes and technology transform the notions of public, private, individuality, identity, memory, and, in general, the concept of the individual. Almudena’s works touch on how perception affects existence and how photographic processes contribute to organising perception.