David Samuel Stern creates portraits of artists, then weaves photographs together to create a strange and disorienting effect. It’s as if you’re looking at two sides of a hologram at once — no matter where you move, the image will never resolve.
Each subject’s sitting lasts around an hour, and then Stern selects a pair of portraits to print onto a translucent drafting vellum. After slicing each photo into strips with a razor blade (one vertically, one horizontally), he laces the two images together. There’s no formula to which two images will complement each other best. “A pair that implies movement is great, because obviously most photography looks very still and eternal,” Stern writes. “But sometimes more subtle shifts in the overlay are better. Symmetry is also automatically compelling and strange.”
“With a human face I think that teetering between abstraction and realism is richer and more profound,” Stern says. “We know what a face should look like, and we want to read into it." The layered images also play with our sense of time: "Portraiture in general has a way of saying, ‘This is you, now and forever.’ And I started thinking perhaps this is a way around that.”