Ralph Kenke and Elmar Trefz win the Digital Portraiture Award with ‘Selfie Factory’

Artists Ralph Kenke and Elmar Trefz have won the ‘Digital Portraiture Award 2017’ for their submission Selfie Factory (2017), receiving a total cash prize of $10,000 from the Portrait Gallery and an artistic residency at State Library of Queensland’s community makerspace, The Edge.

Selfie Factory is an ‘example of the use of new media, pushing the idea of ‘digital’ to include live computation,’ said Daniel Flood, Creative Lead at State Library of Queensland’s The Edge and judge for this year’s award; ‘The work explores the global phenomena of portraiture practice in the form of the selfie and directly engages its audience in its ongoing creative process.’

Digital Portraiture Award 2017 winners – Ralph Kenke and Elmar Trefz, Selfie Factory, 2017, mixed media installation

The installation is a set of five machines capable of printing selfies directly from Instagram using #selfie. Kenke describes the experimental art installation as a temporary visual experience exploring online behaviour. ‘What started as part of my research studies at University of Newcastle, evolved into a number of small-scale prototypes and a collaboration with Elmar, which eventually turned into a working installation,’ said Kenke; ‘Selfie Factory was always intended to be situated in a public or exhibition space to attract people while they use their smart-phone to explore and contribute to the work. The aim is to enable an audience to engage with Selfie Factory and the dialogue about what I would call the experienced divide between online spaces and physical places.’

‘We believe that the discourse on how the virtual social media world impacts physical real society is highly relevant and barely understood, our hypothesis is that it creates a new type of reality which we refer to as Telematic Reality and this is what we are aiming to probe with works such as the Selfie Factory‘, adds Trefz.

The Digital Portraiture Award 2017 exhibition features nine finalists from Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory; on view at the National Portrait Gallery until 18 February 2018. During this time the Selfie Factory is available for public interaction using the hashtag #selfiefactory from 10-11am, 1.30-2pm and 3.30-4pm daily.