“Permutation” is a generative video installation that explores the paradox of similarity and difference. A computer algorithm dynamically remixes still portrait photos into an ever-changing, fragmentary video portrait. The algorithm takes 5-6 photos at random and simultaneously displays a vertical section of each that moves across the screen to generate an image that is constantly evolving and never the same.

The slices of individual photos that make up each composite function like the snippets of genetic code that are spliced together from two parents and generations of ancestors to create the DNA of each individual person. They can also be seen as a metaphor for the thousands of snippets of DNA that each person likely has in common with people around the world. Identity is an artificial construct and the reality is that all humans are much more alike than different, sharing over 99.9% of our DNA with each other. Like the permutations of DNA that result in infinite variations in human beings, the permutations generated by the algorithm are infinite.


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Ahree Lee