As we melt

Sara Bastai 2020

Depicting identity or social phenomena in photography has often been associated with the alleged truthfulness of analog media, such as film-based photography, film or video, “reality” being opposed to digital or virtual environments. But as digital realms have become reality, combining physical existence with a post natural or post human condition, new systems of representation increasingly address an interstitial space. Sara Bastai’s project As We Melt reflects upon the individual in the context of ritualised social interactions, defined by specific garments such as robes and dresses, which appear in numerous cultural contexts. Creating a 3D scan with photogrammetric tools, she transposes the vector of collective interactions within the digital realm, where the solitude of the model is only compensated by its duplication. While 3D scans of bodies are usually operative images, which have a specific purpose – used in video games, architectural renderings or virtual fitting rooms –, As We Melt focusses on intimate glimpses, the imperfections of the rendering paradoxically humanizing the digital avatars. Showing an introspective model trapped in a digital black box, Bastai seems to allude to a crisis in values, beliefs and social norms, the digital scan is only a symptom of, in an attempt to question the role of myths and spirituality in times predominated by techno-economic transformations.

Text by Claus Gunti