Project commencement date

26th February 2015

Artist Statement

We all have a collection of strangers that we’ve met throughout our life— from both personal and digital interactions. We smile when we encounter them in the street, give them a nod at the cafe, and think of them on occasion.

Relationships in the digital world are further integrated; connections pop up when you use new websites, auto fill forms reveal strange names in address fields, and the People You May Know tool is populated with strange yet familiar faces that age over time. Advanced social algorithms are no longer beneficial, as neither party is interested in a connection. Instead emails, SMS messages, and IM apps carry ever growing lists of strangers grown from the faintest of online interactions.

These strangers are ghosts that linger and tease us in the most subtle ways. This work aims to personify these ghosts, to manifest insight significant interactions between strangers— transforming it into a piece of art. For the Artist this means to care about these moments, elaborating on initial interactions to represent these strangers in a narrative way. Now, these strangers haunt the Artist, as an integral part of the creative process. Injecting human effort into this preservation, presentation, and publication of these ghosts gives life and meaning to these spectral strangers.

The Strangers & Their role in the art

The strangers involved in this project have been invited either by being asked offline or messaged through the online services they inhabit. This invitation process ensures that the models retain a certain aesthetic, based on the level of workabilty their image holds. Each model is invited to send a high resolution video of themselves— however once received, interactions between the artists and the strangers were kept to minimum. These video submissions are then standardised for lighting and contrast, then exported into a series of high resolution stills. These still photographs are then placed within a software package which extracts the hidden 3D depth data, creating a 3D point cloud, and finally a 3D mesh that includes a separate “skin” file. These skins retain each strangers’ likeness, projected back onto its 3D mesh.

Filled with wonderful glitches, this unique process produces artefacts that distort and deform faces; often entire sections are missing, and some models can be transformed into unrecognisable blobs. Utilising a different 3D modelling program, these converted meshes are then cleaned up, smoothed, pinched, and creased to resemble the original stranger the model was created from. These glitches, along with the interaction between the stranger and artist, exist in symbiosis so assemble the final image… which becomes that strangers’ ghost.

The artist

Mark Payne

Visual Artist & Designer
Living in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Apply to be a ghost

If this something that interests you, the first step is to submit a clear photograph of yourself (please no nudes) for consideration to If you have the correct "look" for the project you will then need to take some HD video of yourself turning around and sign a model release. There will be a requirements document made available to you on what exactly needs to be done (basically you just turn around in good lighting).