Project|Capture is an ongoing series of interactive "paintings" by Los Angeles media artist Sonja Schenk based on photos that people have taken of themselves and placed on the internet.
Early in the history of photography, Native Americans believed that photographs (or any likeness of a person) could steal their soul, capturing it inside the object that holds their likeness. Some believed in a personal guardian spirit who must be treated with respect and kept private, and who therefore must remain unphotographed. The difference between private life and public life was very clear for them. For us, things are not so well defined.
Project|Capture deals in this way with the disappearing realm of the private in modern life. When original source material discovered on the internet is translated to another medium, a process called "transference" occurs. With each transference, the orginal representation of an individual is inherently changed. A piece of the self is taken, recontextualized, repurposed, transformed. In a hundred years, the photos you posted on the web may be all that is left of you. The medium is not only the message, the medium is you.
In Project|Capture each painting is named for an IP address which in turn sends the viewer back to the internet and towards the original source for the artwork, which may or may not be easily found. In this way, the traditional medium of oil painting is extended both backwards and forwards into the modern medium of the internet.
The paintings in Project|Capture are not portraits, they are transferences with all that the word implies: technology, duplication, reinterpretation, transcendence, the extraction of a part of the essence of what it is to be a human being.