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CARLO VAN DE ROER - The Portrait Machine Project

April 29 – June 17.

Danziger Gallery Los Angeles, is pleased to announce an exhibition and collaboration with the artist Carlo Van de Roer, providing an opportunity to commission a portrait from his celebrated Portrait Machine Project.

In 2008 Van de Roer began making intimate, color saturated portraits which explore the idea that a photograph can reveal an insight within the dynamic between artist, camera and subject. These portraits are made with an aura camera, a highly modified Polaroid camera developed in the 1970s in an attempt to record in a permanent visual form what a psychic might see or intuit.

Aura photography could be seen as an offshoot of spirit photography, but unlike attempts to record images of ghosts, it evolved from diagnostic imaging devices like the X-ray, which sought to objectively measure and document unseen aspects of the human body. The artist employs this undertone of scientific (or pseudo-scientific) insight to probe the tension between accuracy, interpretation and the intangible qualities of a subject at play in a portrait.

Technologically complex but operationally simple, the camera uses instant film and is connected directly to the subject by sensors measuring biofeedback. It then translates these readings into information about the subject's traits and how they are viewed by others, which is depicted as color in the picture. (If the camera presents predominantly orange, the subject is projecting creativity and artistry. Green represents a strength in teaching. Violet is a mix of knowledge and activity).

Mining the traditions of portrait and spirit photography, the Portrait Machine Project embraces the unconventional contributions of the Aura camera while transcending the snap-shop style aesthetic of the new age store to create pictures that have been critically recognized as masterful portraits.

Van de Roer has made portraits of family, friends and personalities of public note including artists Miranda July, Terence Koh and director Taika Waititi. As photography plays an ever present role in how we build our identities and view those around us, the Portrait Machine Project reminds us to ask why that is and what do we expect from a photograph of someone, especially if it's of ourself or someone we think we know.

As Val Williams noted in her essay BEYOND THE MACHINE, “Photography’s task, from its beginnings, has been to take the real world and fashion it into a phantasmagoria of fact and fiction, infused with illusion. Carlo Van de Roer does this too, and asks us to take a step back and enjoy the magic.”

Appointments can be made for commissioned portraits at a special rate available during the run of show. For information on pricing and schedule please speak to us at the front desk or e-mail us at