• Marta Timmer

Fractured Portraits


The human face is one of the most frequent motifs in my art. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then a lot can be communicated in a single glance. It's not just the eyes though. The nose, lips, and even the hair carry so much potential to convey a feeling or a state of mind. In the fraction of a second it takes for the shutter to close, a moment is frozen in time and eternally reflected upon the face of the subject.

But we are not who we think we are. We change and fluctuate with time, we adjust our behaviours, change our minds, learn new things. We shift our pieces into complex mosaics, in response to our surroundings. While the patterns may seem consistent over time in some people, others are more fluid in how they adapt to their environment. Our constant need of being acknowledged nags at us, and so we nag at those around us: "Do you see me?" –we project into the world. "Can you hear me?" – and sometimes it feels as though we are screaming into the void.


Other times we get lost in the sea of others screaming for the same thing, and we can't break through.


A portrait is a form of acknowledgement - a validation of someone's "individuality". So what happens when you add the glitch aesthetic to a portrait? For me, a glitched and fractured portrait may offer an opportunity of capturing our complexity, our unstable nature, our potential to break apart and crumble into pieces. It has the potential to reveal the hidden gears turning in our heads, lift the veil on our soul calibrating into the much improved version 2.0, after some earthquake shook it up.

There is also a matter of memory. How do we remember other people? Are our recollections accurate? OR are they skewed with the things we wish to remember, excluding the things that don't seem to matter.


The edges are rough, the focus is poor, but some features may still stand out, "Her eyes were deep blue when she said she loved me." That sticks with you. Or, "He put his trembling fingers on his lips, as he tried to explain the accident that took his father." Some things are carved deep into our memories, and some things remain as thin and hazy as clouds. It's scars and blood, and then it's cotton candy and smoke. How does that translate into colour and form? Especially the glitch form? Glitch aside, why would anyone want to hang an artwork with the likeness of a stranger in their home? Well, humans are naturally attracted to faces. Just as I had mentioned at the beginning, a face is a communication tool. Maybe there is something in a portrait that you connect with; perhaps you feel that current on your skin, as you discover there is common ground between you, and the subject in the image. It's like they truly see you, and understand you. Perhaps they mimic your reflection, in this image that has become a mirror for your own experiences.

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