New Book: Reconfiguring the Portrait


Edited by Abraham Geil and Tomáš Jirsa

Edinburgh University Press | 312 pages | October 2023
ISBN 9781399525077 | Hardback | $125.00

As technological practices of the portrait have proliferated across the media ecosystem in recent years, this canonical genre of identity and representation has provoked a new wave of scholarly attention and artistic experimentation. This collection of essays explores the stakes of that seemingly anachronistic comeback. It reframes portraiture as a set of cultural techniques for the dynamic performance of subjects entangled in specific medial configurations. Tracking the portrait across a wide range of media – literature, drawings, paintings, grave stelae, films, gallery installations, contemporary music videos, deep fakes, social media, video games, and immersive VR interfaces – the contributors interrogate and transform persistent metaphysical and anthropocentric assumptions inherited from traditional notions of portraiture.ToC1. Configurations of Portraiture: Subjectivity, Techniques, Mediality — Abraham Geil and Tomáš Jirsa

Part I. Genealogies
2. Operative Portraits, or How Our Faces Became Big Data — Roland Meyer
3. ‘This Person Does Not Exist’: From Real Generalization to Algorithmic Abstraction in Photographic Portraiture — Daniël de Zeeuw and Abraham Geil
4. The Face as Artifact: Towards an Artifactual Genealogy of the Portrait — Sigrid Weigel

Part II. (Inter)Faces
5. When Face Becomes Interface: Music Video and the Portrait of Mediality — Tomáš Jirsa
6. Tracing Minor Gestures: Relational Portrait with Fernand Deligny — Elena Vogman
7. Lifelike Portraits and ‘Life Itself’: Deepfakes through Gothic Horror — Nicole Morse
8. Animal Portraits in Social Media: A Case Study Named Esther — Elisa Aaltola

Part III. Self-Constructions
9. The Subject in the Frame: Aesthetic Opacity and the Reverberations of Race, Gender, and Sexuality through the Portrait — Sudeep Dasgupta
10. The Avatarisation of the (Self-)Portrait: Notes Towards a Theological Genealogy of the Virtual Self — Andrea Pinotti
11. Iiu Susiraja: Self-shooting as Playful Practice — Kaisu Hynnä-Granberg and Susanna Paasonen
12. The Quantification Trilogy’s Loss-of-Self Portraits, or Mediating the Technologies of the Self — Kate Rennebohm

Part IV. Afterlives
13. As if to Say Nothing: On Balthus’s Portraits — Brian Price
14. Speaking, through the Eyes, with the Dead — Georges Didi-Huberman
15. Revenants: On the Animation of Dead People’s Portraits in Contemporary Technoculture — Pietro Conte

PRAISE FOR RECONFIGURING THE PORTRAIT“Some studies of the portrait are portraits of their subject, describing a singular thing in detail. This is not such a book. Geil and Jirsa have instead built a kaleidoscope, encased the portrait in its reflecting surfaces, and allowed their contributors to rotate it into motion, yielding ever-changing views of the portrait as a generative operation—of form, thought, abstraction, time, and media itself.”
– Eugenie Brinkema, Massachusetts Institute of Technology