The Moving Portraits of Benton C Bainbridge
A Video Art Interview with Benton C Bainbridge, co-creator of "Lonely Rocks", a collective curation project of self-portrait media art.
Editor’s Note: I discovered Benton C Bainbridge’s work this year, while watching Juke contributor Paul Vlachos’ 2005 documentary Video Out (watch it here on Youtube.) The documentary, which traced the history of live video art from the first analog work of the 1960s to the present, featured Bainbridge as a memorable present-tense Video Artist, using video synthesizers and film effects to create works of multimedia art.
As I researched the progress of Benton’s art through the years since he appeared in Paul’s documentary, I was particularly intrigued by his focus on portraiture. He has spent the past decade making video portraits, transposing film effects onto moving images of friends and gallery visitors. (For example, see last year’s Video Portraits series from Gilroy, California.) Now he has turned his attention to the idea of collective portraits, or the way in which a collection of self-portraits can provide a larger reflection of the world at a particular time.
I contacted Benton to see if he would discuss some of these ideas for Juke, and he was kind enough to offer video responses to my questions. Video, logically, is the ideal format for discussing his particular style of artwork. Watch them to see what I mean.
Here are his first three responses…
Hi, my name is Benton C Bainbridge. I'm speaking to you from “feed”, a media arts center here in the heart of Erie, Pennsylvania. I'm answering some questions about my ongoing video portraiture series for Juke. These questions were posed to me by Tonya Morton.
Tonya was asking me about my video portraiture. This is an ongoing series that I've been doing, I think, now for almost a decade. I'm really interested in looking at how portraiture changes when you do those portraits with video.
Art can actually be experienced in places other than the white walls of an art space. Having said that, clearly the framing of an artwork does matter. You could nail a poster to the wall, but if you put it in a frame then it does “up” its curb appeal. It does make it seem more like a legitimate, valuable work of art. So this is not nothing, this framing device.
My most recent project is a collaboration to explore community around portraits. The project was launched with James Mcgirk. Lonely.ROCKS will premiere this year at Miami art week. Lonely.ROCKS uses web3 technology to explore the collective curation of self-portraits.
Can we look at the ways that a series of video portraits becomes a group portrait? We as a group can assemble the very finest collection of contemporary artists doing self-portraiture. We want to have what James calls the “fat funnel”—taking the widest look at artists working in digital media making self portraits, and from that, find the most significant artworks to represent us collectively in this moment of time.
Lonely.ROCKS is debuting its collective self-portrait project at Miami's Untitled Art Fair this week, from November 29, 2022-December 3, 2022.
Benton C Bainbridge is an American media artist known for creating single channel video, interactive artworks, immersive installations and live visual performances with custom digital, analog and optical systems of his own design. He handcrafts media art with custom image processing systems. Learn more at his website.
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