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

1 December 2017

Selfie Factory, 2017 by Ralph Kenke and Elmar Trefz
Selfie Factory, 2017 by Ralph Kenke and Elmar Trefz

The National Portrait Gallery is pleased to announce Mr Ralph Kenke and Mr Elmar Trefz are the winners of the Digital Portraiture Award 2017 for their submission Selfie Factory. The artists will receive 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.

The installation is unique among this year’s finalists, appearing as a set of five machines capable of printing selfies directly from Instagram using #selfie.

Mr Kenke describes the experimental art installation as a temporary visual experience exploring online behaviour.

‘I feel incredibly honoured that the installation, Selfie Factory, is the recipient of this year’s Digital Portraiture Award. What started as part of my research studies at University of Newcastle, evolved into a number of smallscale prototypes and a collaboration with Elmar, which eventually turned into a working installation,’ said Mr Kenke.

Selfie Factory was always intended to be situated in a public or exhibition space to attract people while they use their smartphone 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. Knowing that the public will have the opportunity to visit and engage with Selfie Factory at the National Portrait Gallery for the next two months is extremely rewarding.’

Mr Trefz is excited to explore the development of Selfie Factory further through the artistic residency.

‘I am very excited to win this prestigious award together with Ralph Kenke and hope that this will allow us to create future iterations of the Selfie Factory as well as further develop our art practice Kenke+Trefz,’ said Mr Trefz.

‘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.’

Daniel Flood, Creative Lead at State Library of Queensland’s The Edge and judge for this year’s award, was impressed by the innovative approach taken by Mr Kenke and Mr Trefz submission.

‘There was a large number of quality entries for the judges to consider this year. We selected Selfie Factory as the winning entry for the Digital Portraiture Award because it is a great example of the use of new media, pushing the idea of ‘digital’ to include live computation,’ said Mr Flood.

‘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.’

The Digital Portraiture Award 2017 features nine finalists from Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Their works will be on display to the public from Friday 1 December 2017 until 18 February 2018 at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

The Selfie Factory will be available for public interaction using the hashtag #selfiefactory from 10.00 to 11.00am, 1.30 to 2.00pm and 3.30 to 4.00pm daily while the exhibition is on display.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.