The use of multiple-exposure techniques to create eerie, ghostlike effects in photography and film is a trope that most of us are familiar with. The work of photographer David Samuel Stern, however, stands out in that he eschews both the usual analog and digital means of achieving such effects. Instead, in his “Woven Portrait” series, Stern physically weaves together two prints of the same subject. The resulting portraits are intriguing and ghostly multi-perspective studies of Stern’s subjects, all of whom are representatives of the creative fields – artists, musicians, choreographers and poets, to name a few.
While each single print by itself depicts a subject at rest, when woven together, the final result appears to be a human figure in motion. Thus, Stern draws our attention to the creative process – to the deep layers of consciousness that are constantly at work while the body appears idle. Another aspect of the creative process involves blurring the boundaries between one’s self and others in order to try on different identities. These works also call to mind this aspect of both creating and understanding art, as the woven subjects have become abstracted, their identities blurred. In Stern’s own words, these images “are an attempt to bridge dignified, direct portraits with a sort of abstraction that allows their subjects to hide within themselves, and the photographs to be distinctly physical objects. In hiding some things, we reveal others.”