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Ben Gest uses many photos to a make a single image

Given Ben Gest's artistic technique, one wonders whether the people seen in
Given Ben Gest's artistic technique, one wonders whether the people seen in "Jessica and Alan" were ever in the same room.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010; 9:21 AM

THE STORY

BEHIND THE WORK

Ben Gest doesn't like to put technique center stage, but the title of his exhibition calls attention to it. "Commissure," a strange word that sounds like a hybrid of "commit" and "fissure," is a term used mainly in the study of anatomy, where it refers to a joint or seam between two body parts.

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But a seam between body parts is exactly what you won't see in Gest's masterfully manipulated digital images, which the artist typically patches together from umpteen different photographs: Take a foot from one photo here, attach it to a leg from another there. His skill level is so high that you can't immediately tell that his portraits are composites or why they don't always add up. There's a simultaneous wrongness and rightness to them. They feel plausible and impossible at the same time.

There's a simple reason the people in Gest's group portraits so often feel like they're not in the same room together. During the photo shoot, they probably weren't.

- Michael O'Sullivan


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