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A breath of fresh air

Standing just a few inches away from one of his “breath prints,” Wil Lindsay gently blows onto a tiny-framed mirror. A curious image of carnival performers on stilts instantly appears, and then gently fades, as if in a distant memory.  

Standing just a few inches away from one of his “breath prints,” Wil Lindsay gently blows onto a tiny-framed mirror. A curious image of carnival performers on stilts instantly appears, and then gently fades, as if in a distant memory.

Using digital media, Lindsay is reinterpreting long-forgotten 19th-century technology, developed by Sir John Herschel. “The image was only viewable from the moisture of someone’s breath,” says Lindsay of Herschel’s invention. “You have this personal little moment with the image that was completely lost when the newer, faster emulsions came out.”

Better known by hackers and programmers as VBLANK — largely for his signature manipulations of eight-bit graphics — Lindsay has been passionately investigating our relationship to media technology for more than two decades. On Friday, his work will be featured in the “Spectacle Obscura” group show at Bambi Gallery.

“I realized that people that create these technologies, they don’t usually look back and take a look at the mistakes that have been made already,” he says. “So we keep having the same problems in our relationship to technology. Like 3-D TV, we’ve tried that like 15 times — in movies or stereoscopes. There’s something in the relationship that doesn’t work. If we look at the old technologies, maybe we can start adapting it for ourselves, instead of adapting ourselves to the technology.”

 
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