Chromogenic print, electroluminescent paper, half-silvered acrylic, high-dimensional centroid of deep convolutional neural network-registered, coherent point drift non-linearly-transformed, photographed death masks of 178 notable men, dimensions: 297 × 420 mm, 2014
Few of us have seen death in the face. Perhaps more vividly than elsewhere, death is here privative: the absence of the expressions — both dispositional and occurrent — for which the anatomy of the face is in life mere vehicle. Captured in the death mask, then, is the true coordinate origin of the face: the set of points of departure from which each emotional expression is a distinct and variably distant arrival. Distilled here, from a multitude of death masks of men notable enough to merit them, is the origin of this origin, the base anatomical canvas laid bare. Though created from surface impressions, it yields the deep biological structure emotion perturbs into its characteristic forms of expression: in death we are given the starting positions of life.
Parashkev Nachev is a neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist with an interest in the intersection between high-dimensional models of biology and anti-reductive reasoning and practice in art.