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Search Portrait, 2023, split flap board tethered to the artist's internet searches. 10' long. Ed. of 5, 1 A/P.
On view at Birch Contemporary, Toronto. September 9–October 14, 2023. 

Search Portrait (2023)

A split-flap board has been programmed to display the real-time Google searches of the artist. Everything searched is transmitted—unfiltered—to the board for the duration of her life.


Exhibition Text:

There’s the person you are, and the person you think you are.
Most of us think of ourselves as who we are on our best day. But we’re more likely the sum total of our appetites, anxieties and curiosities.

The person you are is what you type into the internet. 

Google knows what it is. It’s your research partner, news peddler, life coach, doctor, agony aunt, fearmonger, best friend, pimp. 

The search bar is a 24/7 confessional, and the confessor always gives you the answer you were looking for. It might take a few tries to find the right fit, and too often the answer is that you have a tumour. 

“Search Portrait” is a complete record of the artist's Google searches, broadcast in real time onto a split-flap display. Nothing is excised or censored. It is equal parts “The Truman Show” and Samuel Pepys’ diary. This new media installation creates a unique and un-retouched portrait of the artist as the person they are. 
If a painted portrait is a moment in time, “Search Portrait” is a 360-degree time-lapse inner scouring. It is as close as we can get to totalizing. 
A person’s search history is a dangerous place to go. Also, banal. Also, beautiful. Also, morbid and lecherous and…pick a word. It’s that. 
You are one or two faces to the world, but you are a limitless number when you look into the mirror of the Internet. Gabriel García Márquez remarked that “everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life and a secret life”— “Search Portrait” is the level below the third option. 

Your unfettered online curiosity is the closest you will get to your reptile self—all id, all longing, something deeper than secret. When you think, ‘Is there any way anyone can read this?’—well, here you go. 

You possess a unique companion piece to this work—your own search history. It is as if you could turn around paintings and see yourself on the back of them. 
How do you compare? What are you thinking when you believe no one can see you thinking it? What do you want when there’s only one person you can ask, and that person is not a person at all? And most importantly—when you go looking, what do you see there?

“Search Portrait” is an exercise in seeing one person fully, wholly and without context. It is utterly human.
 –Cathal Kelly

Learn more....

Search Portrait  teaser video, split flap board tethered to the artist's internet searches. 10' long. Pictured here in production.
May Search-framed.jpg

Search Portrait - May 1, 2023, 5:06 pm - May 8, 12:18 pm, 2023

Accompanying the exhibition is a limited edition serigraph print that showcases the artist's complete search history from May 1 to May 8, 2023. 

To view the print in more detail, please click here.

To inquire about availability, please send us an email.


Search Portrait - May 1, 2023, 5:06 pm - May 8, 12:18 pm, 2023. Serigraph, 18 x 24", edition of 20, 2 P/P, 2 A/P, 4  H/C
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