Seeing and Being Seen, 1995

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Barbara Astman, Seeing and Being Seen, 1994-1995      


The sense of being watched while we are looking at the work is thought provoking, since it parallels our life experience. Astman was considering how we view others, how they view us, and how we view ourselves – at different points of our lives – and decided to explore these eye images as metaphors for this process of seeing and being seen.


Seeing and Being Seen utilizes images of human eyes, either appropriated or sampled from her personal collection. Arranged in pairs, but often-mismatched ones, the eyes are collaged and shot as Polaroids. These images were scanned and output onto large sheets of frosted mylar, creating works that are elegant, sensual, and haunting. 

BARBARA ASTMAN creates photographic series that target the personal world through recollection or revelation. Her early work responds to contemporary issues by incorporating humor and stereotype. Her oversize photographs from the early 1980s are striking in their bold, unusual use of color and scale.


Throughout her career, Astman pioneered the artistic use of both analogue and digital reproduction techniques. She is among the first to discover and explore the technological practices and concepts that are key signifiers in contemporary art.


Born in Rochester NY, Astman studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the late 1960s when multimedia practices were the hotbed for artistic innovation. Astman came to Canada in 1970 during the wave of draft dodgers from the Vietnam War. Since the mid 1970s she has been a professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto.