Portraits of a Future Self, Selected Works, 2019
Portraits of a Future Self
The series Portraits of a Future Self examines the limits and possibilities of painting in the digital age. By combining doll-like, robot-like forms and found pictorial material with a profound understanding of art history, especially the history of German painting, Stein’s process raises questions about our place in a post- human world.
Through the almost exclusive use of gray tones in her paintings, Stein uses color both tactically and emotionally. The works combine utopian aesthetics with the exaggerated facial features of human robots, which are increasingly used in Japanese retirement homes, schools, and law enforcement as a non-threatening interface. Part human, part machine, and part animal, Stein’s portraits move effortlessly between analog, artificial, and digital worlds. Both Stein’s distinctive painting style and her subjects are deeply rooted in these contrasting realities.
From the Golem to Boston Dynamics, humans create unwitting portraits of themselves in the forms of their idealized servants. Technology presents itself as scientific, neutral, and even biologically determined. In reality, our machines and interfaces are ideological, mythological, and (especially) intimate. They stare not out of a void but back at us, as if a mirror.