Nancy Burson was a digital imaging pioneer (art gallery variety) and her omission from the Whitney's BitStreams show last year was just one more example of that show's 30-something parochialism. That said, she kind of lost her way when she started taking photos of people with craniofacial deformities (can you say...exploitation?), and looking back at her classic work, it appears that the tech world has passed her by. Nowadays anyone with Photoshop can combine a man's face with a gibbon's (e.g., Will Self's Great Apes book cover from a few years ago), or give someone a bulbous forehead. And I always thought her "aging software" was a bit of a scam--taking what a police sketch artist does intuitively and dressing it up with pseudoscientific bells and whistles. Nevertheless, her morph of Reagan and Brezhnev (with a pinch of Thatcher, Mitterand, and Deng) is still a grabber. Also noteworthy is her Ordinaires CD cover, where the nine band members merge into a blandly smiling whole.

A website for her current retrospective is here, slow-loading Flash intro and all.

- tom moody 4-24-2002 11:58 pm

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