These (un-retouched) photographs reflect the stage of development of internet video at the turn of the 21st century. These images were screen captured from internet video chat rooms throughout the year 1999 with a 56K modem. During my early investigation and experimentation of using the internet, I was struck by the images that flashed before me in the video chat rooms. I was taken by the painterly appearance of the highly pixelated images, poses, facial expressions and gestures. I had always enjoyed the simple quality of these images. I felt like I was sitting in a park with my camera taking candid portraits of people from around the world.
The computer had a screen capture feature that allowed me to capture anything on the computer monitor. Considering that the chat room guest set up their camera and lighting, most of the hard work was already done. I just had to click the shutter, so to speak...it was simply a matter of pushing a button at the right time.
These images represent an interesting study of environmental portraiture. Not only do the video guests present themselves, but they also present their environment, their office, their living room, etc., giving the viewer information and insight. Color, gesture, composition and content were the elements that I considered unconsciously and spontaneously as I captured these images. Often an image would flash by so quickly that I would miss it as I was trying to decide what frame to catch. Sometimes I just got lucky.
~ Dennis Wickes / 2011
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