Self-taught photographer Jon Jacobsen creates portraits that feel like the stuff of beautiful nightmares. In fact, he operates on the idea that reality and fantasy might not be so far from each other as we think.
His portraits and self-portraits reflect the fragility of human nature and many works echo the symbolic language and dark beauty of memento mori pieces. The colorful, swirling lines that emanate from his subjects seem to hint at another person or personality. What could look like a placid, somewhat Classical portrait becomes disturbing and distorted. It’s hard to tell whether the subjects are rotting away or actually transforming into their true shape.
In GIF form they become especially eerie. The movement of the intricate lines in the GIFs seem like the throwing of paint or – more creepily — the splash of a liquid like blood. The surrealist qualities of the works come through even more here as the body’s flesh seems to twist and transform.
The portraits mesh this modern digital tool with a Classical approach towards death and portraiture, twisted by Jacobsen’s uniquely unsettling visions. His works further comment on image-making: there’s much more to our bodies that the pristine, exterior physicality we put forth in our own photos. Actually, there might be something more fantastical and disturbing inside of us than we imagined.