You have the eyes of a stranger : the distancing effect of the digital photographic portrait : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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You Have the Eyes of a Stranger considers digital portrait photography as a medium that invites distance between subject, viewer and photographer. The images critique the use of a technology that is immediate, affordable and obtainable, and considers the power of control it affords its beholder. The work explores how subjects are perceived and used as a result of a medium where memory, imagination and fantasy are allowed to co-exist. The male is the subject scrutinised, while the (female) photographer’s influence visibly becomes part of the images. Walter Benjamin argued that due to their accessibility, and their ability to be reproduced and distributed to a mass public, photographs shatter capitalist, bourgeois tradition by destroying the ‘aura’ of the sacred, authentic and original art object1. Through the methodologies employed, You Have the Eyes of a Stranger exemplifies how digital photographs have the ability to create distance and mystique, resulting in an ‘aura’ of their own.
Digital portraits, Digital photography