This Artist Uses a UV Lamp to Sunburn Photos into Pale Skin

Inspiration  /  Mashups
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We’ve featured artists before who produce fascinating twists on this whole painting-with-light thing — projecting portraits on the rainforest canopy, for instance, or growing them from living walls of grass.

But French artist Thomas Mailaender took the practice to an entirely new, wince-inducing level with this performance art piece, Illustrated People: using pale skin as stand-in for photo-sensitive paper, he deployed a strong UV lamp to literally burn in a camera negative image. Like Victorian-era sun prints, only pre-cancerous. Sunburn photos. No darkroom, we can assume, required.

The negatives were borrowed from the enigmatic Archive of Modern Conflict, a London-based organization as opaque as its collection is eclectic. These sunburn pictures, which Mailaender published in a book alongside other non-dermal images from the Archive, are so meta you may need a whiteboard to map everything out: photo portraits of photo portraits, subjects ‘printed’ onto other subjects, then printed onto paper, here now ‘printed’ into pixels.

And then…healed. And gone.