The Portrait Machine Project


New Zealand born young photographer and amateur surfer Carlo Van de Roer’s newest project is entitled The Portrait Machine Project.  Van de Roer’s photographs of people close to him or those in the public sphere, such as Miranda July, Lorenzo Martone and James Frey, attempt to record unseen aspects of the human psyche by visually depicting the subjects’ auras as vivid clouds of color.

Invented in the 1970s, the one button, instant film Polaroid Aura Camera 6000 used by Van de Roer alleges to record the biofeedback rhythms of the subject through hand-plates and subsequently portray the information as a visible aura. The camera also translates the information from the hand-plates to a printed diagram for each photo explaining the emotions, potential and aspirations of the subject.  Violet is read as mystical and unifying, while green represents healing and teaching.

Despite any skepticism of the true meaning or revelations of his photographs, Van de Roer feels that his project is in line with the subjective nature of photography, asserting that the “camera bypasses the control of the photographer and subject in making the portrait”.

Regardless of what his photographs actually uncover or document, the intention is intriguing and the results are remarkably beautiful.

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