Cassandra Leopold is a Milwaukee native, working as a fiber artist and educator. Combining digital imagery, basic dye technique, and silkscreen she creates visual narratives and collages. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Art (concentrating on fibers and photography) and teaches silkscreen classes at the Union Arts and Craft Centre at UW Milwaukee. She also produces vintage silkscreen “wearables” for commission.
I started doing scanner portraits as an undergrad for an installation project.
I found using the scanner as a medium incredibly attractive, especially as a means to interact with the public. Scanning combines the potent colors and instant gratification of a Polaroid, the manipulation of digital photography and inevitably the guilty pleasure of xeroxing your face.
Embracing the scanner (literally) made participants active in the process of making a portrait. They could bring items with them that might reflect their personalities or translate those items into new forms using the scanning process. Experimentation with body and prop placement was key and revealing.
Also I became intrigued with the rawness of the scans. A person could take off the lid of the scanner and the conflicting light sources produced a surreal glow, distorting body parts into ghostly shadows. If they choose cover up the external light noses, fingers and hair appeared to come from nowhere. I even preferred the lines left by the scanner’s light and infrequent color patterns. Part of the charm of scanning became how the machine processed the data in front of it.
I have looked at other scanners (more pixel depth, color range, etc), but enjoy using what is around me because it makes me work on my composition skills more and think outside the box.