Being There and Letting Go: A Conversation with Lincoln Schatz

Portraiture of all varieties is hot in the current art market. Just as traditional portraiture risks superannuation by alternative approaches like Facebook and Second Life, Chicago-based Lincoln Schatz is charting new ground. His interactive video portraits fuse likeness and identity with character probing and perpetual change. Yet the need to record, to display, and, ultimately, to immortalize remains. With influences ranging from John Cage, Mies van der Rohe, and Richard Serra to Apple, Hilla and Bernd Becher, and Bill Viola, Schatz began creating video memory artworks in the early 2000s. In From Here (2007), a video installation in the lobby of One Arts Plaza in Dallas, 12 screens, two channels, and two computers randomly collect data, creating a spectral overlap of anonymous yet specific images. “The idea that you can perform in front of it, and that his piece therefore records the memory of the space was something that captivated us,” explains Lucilo A. Peña, president of development for Billingsley, which commissioned the work. The home version has a motion-activated, wall-affixed video screen transforming data into an ongoing story line that interweaves past and present.