Found and Forgotten
a series of porcelain lithophanes
Popular in the 19th century, lithophanes are porcelain castings made from photographs. In ambient light they appear as bumpy surfaces with a vague image inscribed. However, when lit from behind, a three-dimensional picture appears.
These lithophanes were made from photographs taken by forensic artists of their sculpted facial reconstructions of unidentified victims. I began by writing a toolpath from the digital photograph for a CNC machine and carving this image into a piece of high-density urethane foam. I then made a plaster mold of this carved image and slip cast it with porcelain as was traditionally done, and fired it in a kiln. Finally, I mounted the plates on small light boxes that hang from the wall.
The facial reconstructions of the Jane and John Does represent humans whose identities have been lost but are being summoned back visually through forensic artistic imagination.I find that these objects- a combination of science, imagination and artistic endeavor- very compelling as both narrative and metaphor. As lithophanes, I envision that these dimly lit images conjure up thoughts around loss and hidden identities, and are reminiscent of votive candles or grave markers. Using this lost photographic process, along with the images of Jane & John Does, further extends the metaphor and helps create meaning in the work.