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Talking to Madeline Schwartzman

From her biography, Madeline Schwartzman states that she "looks at the future of the human head, using fashion, design, and technology to explore how we might extend into space, plug our head in, or make it disappear altogether." When looking at Schwartzman's headshots in which she is camouflaged by natural elements (carefully arranged branches, lichens, helicopter seeds, etc.), we see ingredients of the present, past and future and how sensorium is affected by these natural extensions. Perception is altered as these prosthetics provide what we imagine as obscured or tunnel vision for the eyes and smothering for the mouth and nose. One can almost see, taste, smell, hear and feel the withering of drying fronds tickling the skin and encroaching upon sensation.

As viewers, we are struck by the temporary, the ridiculousness, the natural and the unnatural, the provocative, and the curious. We are affected by the physiological sensations that these photographed or filmed moments induce (for example: suffocation, itchiness). This empathetic connection allows us both to see her in her place from an observational standpoint while imagining how we would feel if adorned in similar vestiges. It also challenges us to see the world and its natural, rhythmic cycles in a different way. In Schwartzman's case, she literally tries on components of nature whether it be the curly armor of birch bark, the sinuous drying leaves of a maple tree, or clouds of baby's breath. She uses photographic measures to capture these fleeting moments as natural discourse dictates that viable entities wither, die and disintegrate. Photography and filming allow for preservation of these otherwise transient moments.

The beauty of Schwartzman's work: there is no wrong or right answer. When discussing how to approach her talk with us on The Large Glass, she said "let's just have fun with it"- and that's just what we did.

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