Ben Gest uses many photos to a make a single image

Thursday, October 21, 2010; 9:21 AM


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.

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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