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In The Portrait Machine Project, Brooklyn-based photographer Carlo Van de Roer explores the idea that a camera can reveal hidden facets of a subject’s character and the relationship between a photographer and a viewer. Van de Roer made portraits of friends and family using a Polaroid Aura Camera, which was developed by American inventor Guy Coggins. To make these photographs, the subject is connected to the camera by sensors measuring electromagnetic biofeedback. The camera generates a printed description of this information as a color Polaroid photograph. The Aura camera has undertones of pseudo-scientific authority and at the same time recalls the “spirit” photography so popular at the turn of the twentieth century. This image, titled simply The Grid (2012), collects 113 of Van de Roer’s photographs to create a psychedelic swirl that itself implies alternate ways of accessing people’s inner selves. The blooms of color contrast the rigidity of the grid and keep this image in a fascinating, if ever-shifting, state of tension.


Carlo Van de Roer (born in 1975, Wellington, New Zealand) received a BFA from Victoria University before working and exhibiting internationally in the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France. Van de Roer has received the ADC Young Guns Award, the APA Silver to Pixels Award for Fine Art, the PDN Pix Award, and has been named a Top 50 Photographer by Photolucida and received an honorable mention for the BMW–Paris Photo Prize. His work has drawn notice by the New York Times, New Yorker, INTERVIEW, Vogue Italia, Wired, and NPR. Van de Roer currently lives and works in Brooklyn.

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