Lori Hepner, Status Symbol
Status Symbols is a series of virtual portraits that are studies of identity in the digital age of social media. Textual updates on sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow for virtual personas to be created with the prodding of, “What are you doing?” or “What’s on your mind?” at the direction of the social networks. Status Symbols showcases the virtual identities created from these self-scripted self-portraits. Abstract portraits are created with spinning LEDs that translate written words into flashing bursts of light in the computer’s language of binary code. Custom hardware and software are used to transform the text into ons and offs of binary code. Each portrait represents a fleeting moment of identity in the digital world.
The conceptual basis for the project is based upon current events related to digital identity, censorship, and privacy as seen through Twitter posts. Collaborative portraits were made as a part of the @1stfans Twitter Art feed at the Brooklyn Museum in December 2010. The series also looks at portraiture through online updates from people who have larger than single-person identities, such as @BarackObama and @Britneyspears in addition to asking for the #status of everyday people. In October 2015, Wired ran an article* featuring new portraits and announced that Carnegie Mellon’s MoonArts project commissioned a portrait to include in the Arc that will be launched to the Moon as a part of the Google Lunar X prize in 2016.
Lori Hepner is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in conceptually based photography and photographic installations. A recent body of work, Status Symbols, is a series of portraits that are studies of identity in the digital age of social media through. The portraits focus on visualizing text-based tweets into abstracted visual portraits by using the on/off signature of the computer’s native language, binary code. #Crowdsourced #Landscapes, her current project is experimental landscapes based upon social media posts about personal landscape, memory, and climate change in the Arctic. She is a graduate of RISD, earning an MFA in Digital Media in 2005 and received her BFA in Fine Art Photography from RIT in 2003.
Lori’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including exhibitions at the Houston Center for Photography, Duke University, Cambridge University, Carnegie Museum of Art, the A.I.R. Gallery, and in the @1stfans project with the Brooklyn Museum. She has shown her work internationally in touring exhibitions with Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward, a 6-person traveling exhibition curated by the PhotoEspaña Festival, 14th International Lishui Photography Festival in Lishui, China, and had work featured in the Data Rush exhibition at the 2015 Noorderlicht Photofestival in The Netherlands. Lori’s work has also been featured in SPE’s Exposure Magazine, the Center for Photography at Woodstock’s PQ#99 magazine, Time Magazine’s Lightbox blog, Next Level Magazine, and Wired. Lori currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA where she is Associate Professor of Integrative Arts at the Greater Allegheny campus of Penn State University.
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