What do you get if you photograph a selection of the world’s top technology leaders and entrepreneurs in a series of stark, plain portraits? “Honesty,” according to visual artist Kevin Abosch.
Dublin-based Abosch has photographed some of the world’s most well-known faces, from Johnny Depp and Claudia Schiffer to Yoko Ono and Lou Reed. Now he’s created a collection of portraits of the people behind some of the most important companies in the technology sphere. Google’s Eric Schmidt, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, Netflix’s Reed Hastings and AOL’s Arianna Huffington are among the people featured.
Abosch says that the photos show that these powerful, influential figures “are human.”
“You see them in a completely different way. I’m just trying to strip away all the masks and show the honest human behind those masks.”
“I don’t think of myself so much as as photographer as I do as an ontologist,” says Abosch. “Which is to say that I’m concerned with matters of existence and identity. I’m not necessarily trying to make them look good, I’m just trying to show that the faces behind these products that in many cases have become ubiquitous are human just like you, and that we’re all sharing the human experience.”
Taken at the high-profile, invite-only F.ounders event in Dublin last year, the photographs we first showcased at its sister event in New York recently. “I thought that when you have grouping of so many people like that, there should be an artistic legacy of the event. This is about the community, and manifesting the community as art. What’s interesting about the tech community is that it’s not restricted to one locality – it’s a global community.”
The images share an identical (‘austere and minimalist’, in the artist’s own words) look – a face staring straight forwards, with a black background. When viewed in a group, Abosch says, the visual repetition is “almost like a mantra. And that mantra would be, ‘we’re all human’.”
Despite the conceptual goals of the collection, the photos didn’t take long to shoot. “It’s never long. I’d rather spend two minutes shooting someone and then just hang out with them for an hour afterwards. Essentially, I’m looking for one photo, and in some cases it’s a matter of just two shots.
“Honesty isn’t about something you have to dig for. I think it’s actually right there just under the surface, and it doesn’t take long to get it. A crucial part of getting it, especially when you’re shooting people who maybe aren’t used to being photographed or come to the table with very healthy egos, I have to set my ego aside the few moments that I’m shooting so that doesn’t reflect in the subject.”
You can view a selection of the photographs on Abosch’s website, and in this month’s Wired magazine. For the future, he is planning a simultaneous exhibition of the images in Los Angeles, New York and possibly London, where ‘virtual walls’ will make it look as if the exhibitions are connected in a shared space.