Disconcerting: that was the first word that popped into my mind when I saw these animated GIFs by Bill Domonkos. The artist has taken archive photos (and a painting, The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David) and added surreal effects to them. The entire images are left in black and white.
One woman’s portrait has an inhuman hand reaching out from her hair to stroke her neck. In others, the people’s faces have been replaced or covered by strange objects, such as an oscillating fan, an airplane, or a cloud of smoke. In one, a woman’s face is severely distorted as she is blasted from a strange device she is holding (which appears to be a form of quack medicine to begin with). Not all his work is as creepy, though most retains a sense of the absurd. The image where a woman’s face becomes a star field is elegant and mesmerizing.
Domonkos is also an experimental filmmaker, and is based in San Francisco, U.S. “The extraordinary thing about cinema is its ability to suggest the ineffable—something that cannot or should not be expressed in words, only hinted at through sounds and images. It is this elusive, dreamlike quality that informs my work,” he says in his artist’s statement.