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Likeness and Legacy in Korean Portraiture

2015. By Ahree Lee (American, b. Korea, 1971)
Generative video.

Asian Art Museum, loan from artist.
Photograph © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Based in Los Angeles, Ahree Lee is interested in hidden layers and stories embedded in the identities of individuals, families, and communities. In this video work, Lee explores the paradox of similarity and difference. A computer algorithm dynamically remixes still portrait photographs into an ever-changing, fragmentary video portrait. The slices of individual photos that make up each composite portrait function like the snippets of genetic code that are spliced together from two parents and generations of ancestors to create the DNA of each individual person. They can also be seen as a metaphor for the subset of DNA that each person likely has in common with people around the world. Like the genetic permutations that result in infinite variations in human beings, the permutations generated by the video’s algorithm are infinite.