Cassandra Zampini is a New York-based photographer turned digital artist. She creates mined-image collages from social media and other internet sources that aim to stimulate introspection about the temporary and permanent effects of our ever-evolving technological world. The digital prints and video encapsulate the artist’s concerns on issues of data excess, authenticity, and privacy. Zampini seeks to illustrate both our current sense of self-identity — through “selfies” and gestures— and our collective cultural identity through the lenses of politics and consumerism.
By incorporating data mining into her artistic practice, Zampini creates artworks that are composite portraits documenting our digital lives. She begins her process akin to a data scientist by scraping — a process of extracting data from websites— to scour for images searchable by hashtags such as, “#selfie.” After the algorithm harvests millions of images, she then begins the complex and tedious process of organizing the collected visual information. Each image is painstakingly placed into categories that document popular movements, trends, and behaviors, taking months to complete. The composite portraits are then assembled digitally image by image, one by one, like the tesserae arranged by a mosaicist. The artist personally selected and placed each image into the collage with thoughtful consideration of tone, camera angle, and reoccurring gestures or facial expressions.
At times her finished collage works remain digital and seek to overstimulate by concurrently playing and constantly replacing each “tile” with a new video. Other artworks are physical and printed as large-scale photographs in small editions. Some of the prints are washed or screen-printed with a custom black ink formula, yielding a ghostly inverted or almost silhouetted image similar to the metallic qualities of daguerreotype. Each physical artwork allows the viewer to calmly contemplate a snapshot of our overwhelming online culture distilled to a single composite image. The results are aesthetically pleasing image mosaics that vary from an aggregate video bombardment to a physical manifestation of data-at-rest.
A self-taught artist, Zampini discovered her love for photography in college as an intern documenting poverty and the effects of globalization throughout South America. She developed a keen eye for capturing the complexity of anonymity and isolation present in a culture of self-promotion working in New York and Boston. In 2018, intrigued by issues of privacy online from the Facebook-Cambridge Analytic scandal, the artist transitioned from taking photographs of our everyday lives to mining those images from our digital media, her now preferred medium. Zampini’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the country, most recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; The Center for Creative Photography, at the University of Arizona; The Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, NY and is an invitee for the current traveling show, A Yellow Rose Project. In addition, her artwork is collected by private, public, and corporate collections including the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Pioneer Investments in Boston.