False Pretenses by Bill Edmonds
June 2nd - July 11th, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday June 3rd, 7-9pm
Not everyone is who they appear to be. In the age of social media, that has become increasingly true – it’s that truth that’s being explored in this exhibition by Bill Edmonds.
For the past two years, he has been exploring the anonymity of the Internet and the relationships formed by strangers online. The title of the exhibition comes from the slang definition of “catfish” – someone who pretends to be someone they’re not on social media to create false identities. Edmonds experienced this phenomenon first-hand while searching for portrait subjects online. He would make contact with random individuals through Internet chat rooms, asking the strangers to send him a photo so he could paint their portrait in return. In many cases, he suspected the image was not the person’s own, and he soon discovered there was an agenda attached to the photograph.
“The criteria for the start of the conversation were a common interest in art,” said Edmonds. “In the vast majority of contacts, it became apparent this was not the case, and if I did get sent a photo it was usually an unlikely match with the preceding texts.”
Edmonds used that deceit to drive him to produce the series of paintings in this exhibition. He sketched, and then painted the images on Plexiglas panels, often adding scraps of texts sent to him along with the original photo. The paintings were then photographed and printed on rag paper. Edmonds also would plan to have a continuous loop video of his actual online conversations that inspired the final images plus an installation of a random stranger on a PC, feeling that this would generate an interesting dialogue of space, time and memory in the local community and more over open up a wide range of discussions about the idea of identity
* Catfish Urban Dictionary 2014. A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities