My Portraits are picturing reality artificially

600 shots in 30 minutes for one facial landscape: Daniel Boschung cartographies faces. The composed mega portraits are irritating.

Face Cartography is the Swiss publicity and coverage photographer’s newest project. He cartographies faces. Instead of taking pictures himself, he removes himself out of the process by delegating the work to an ABB industrial robot driven by a control software, which was written exlusivly for this task. The standardized portraits have a surprising impact.

Boschung uses a Canon EOS Mark ll camera with a 180mm macro lens, which he transformed into a telecentrical lens. For his flash installation his uses the Scoro S 32000 RFS 2 from Broncolor, one of only a few flash generators able to cope with these extraordinary demands.

Boschung’s requirements were short flash frequencies, constant light temperatures and short loading cycles. Other flash lights tend to overheat, have to be cooled with ice packs and exhibit variable colour spectrum.

Each picture consists of about 600 single shots with a size of 900 million pixels. The result is hyper realistic. A stubble turns into a trunk, a wrinkle into a canyon, the nostril into a cavern. These facial landscapes are dismaying – why? ”Emotions are completely missing. Emotions show up only briefly while Macro photography takes half an hour. The person has to stay motionless while being photographed by the robot” explains Boschung.

After stitching together all the macro-pictures they show the primary, neutral, matter-of-factual portrait of the person photographed. But, as Boschung says, at the same time each photograph is a great bluff since it is a composition of digital fragments and not one single momentary picture, even if it looks like. ‘My portraits are picturing reality artificially.’ Boschung says.

The illusion is mind boggling. Because of smallest details being shown, the brain concludes: This picture is real! But the instinct signalizes that there must be something wrong. What is irritating gets obvious only at the second or third look, if at all.

What is it that makes a human being unique? This question is driving Daniel Boschung. By staying out of the process and making standardized robot photographs, neatly precise in a scientific way, he gets closer to the individual.

These mega portraits show their direct, merciless individuality only when presented as a series. Given their size and their genuine details some faces are hard to stand, as Boschung says, since there is no protecting distance or glossed over esthetical approach.