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The Digital Skin Series


The Digital Skin Series2016. Sublimation print on aluminum. 18 elements. X:130; Y:100 cm, each

The Digital Skin Series is composed of self-portraits in which I pose “under the digital skin” of strangers I’ve crossed paths with in the past. To create this series, I first used a 3D scanner to obtain an accurate tridimensional model of my face. Then I used a camera-prototype to acquire HD portraits of strangers. Finally, I applied their portraits to my digital skull as if they were simply an additional layer. The result is a series of photographs where bidimensionality and tridimensionality collide in an intimate and unpredictable way.

In the past, myths about skin were common across cultures and related to radical biological metamorphoses. For example, in the Navajo tradition – which considered the skin a mask – if you were to lock your eyes with those of the skinwalkers, they could project themselves into your body and transform into you. In today’s network society, bodies have left that organic condition and are characterized by transient statuses: individuals have become di-viduals, data aggregates, samples, signals. The last boundary between us and the world, our skin, has become a transient membrane that changes along with the trans- and meta- human forms under it. The space that was occupied by the skinwalkers of the past has been taken over by infinite reconfigurations and mediations. What remains the same is that to be human still means to constantly shift through generative metamorphosis, corruptions, and de-generations that escape any clear categorization.


  • (2019) SAC – Spazio Arte Contemporanea. Combat Prize 2019, Livorno Italy
  • (2018) iMAL Center for Digital Cultures and Technology, #LAYERS. Contemporary Art in the Digital Era, curated by Fabio Paris (Link Art Center), Brussels, Belgium
  • (2017) European ParliamentLeggere il Presente. Percezione del confine e ruolo dell’Altro nell’Europa di oggi, curated by l’art9, Brussels, Belgium
  • (2017) ISEA2017 – 23rd International Symposium on Electronic Art + XVI Festival Internacional de la Imagen, Manizales, Colombia


  • Winner of Premio Fattori Contemporaneo, promoted by Musei Civici di Livorno, Museo della Città – Luogo Pio Arte Contemporanea and Museo Giovanni Fattori. Jury: Andrea Bruciati, Daniele De Luigi, Francesca Baboni, Lorenzo Balbi, Matteo Bergamini, Paola Tognon, Stefano Taddei. Livorno, Italy



Visual Communication Quarterly
“Portfolio: The Digital Skin Series”
Edited by xtine burrough, Taylor & Francis, v.23, n.3, 2017. (eng)




“The Digital Skin Series: The Stranger in my Face”
Review of “The Digital Skin Series,” Vol. 55, centrefold, 2017. (eng)



TK21 Le Revue
“Art Brussels 2018”
Reportage by Dominque Moulon, 2018 (eng).


Am Strand: Bild und Text zur Zukunft
Vavarella, Emilio. “The Digital Skin Series and The Google Trilogy”
Winter 2017/18, n.2 (deu-eng).



“Glitch: la verità nell’errore. Conversazione con Emilio Vavarella”
Interview by Mauro Zanchi and Sara Benaglia, 5 July 2020. (ita)



EAI Endorsed Transactions on Creative Technologies (European Union Digital Library)
Costa, F: “To be or not to be – a data set. Art, technology and identity in the new informational order”
vol. 7, Issue 22, pp. 1638-48. (eng)



“Digitale Off Limits: intervista a Emilio Vavarella”
Interview by Maria Chiara Wang, July 2020. (ita)



“Glitch: The Truth in the Error. A Conversation with Emilio Vavarella”
by Sara Benaglia and Mauro Zanchi, August 2020. (eng)



Metafotografia, Vol.2. Le mutazioni delle immagini
“Intervista 25: Emilio Vavarella”
Edited by Mauro Zanchi and Sara Benaglia (eds.) Skinnerbox, Jesi (Italy), 2020, pp. 112-117. (ita-eng).

[BOOK | PDF (ITA – no images) | ARCHIVED (ENG – no images)]


Arte e tecnologia del terzo millennio. Scenari e protagonisti [Art and Technology in the Third Millennium: Landscapes and Protagonists]
Catricalà, Valentino and Cesare Biasini Selvaggi, I Quaderni della Collezione Farnesina, Vol. II, Milan: Mondadori Electa, 2020. (ita-eng)

[PDF ]


Switch Magazine
“Emilio Vavarella”
January 2021. (ita)



Visual Culture Studies
“Lending the Face / Prestare il volto”

by Elisabetta Modena, in VCS n.3, Mimesis Edizioni, 2022. (ita – eng)



The Parkview Museum

“Emilio Vavarella: Unpredictability of Technological Power”

in Bio Art (ed. by Camilla Latini, Maurice Xu and Xiadi Sun). Published by the Parkview Museum Beijing – Singapore, 2023. (chi-eng)


NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti

“Emilio Vavarella: Esseri Umani, Tecnologia e Memoria”

 by Amico, Chiara. Missing the Signal. MA Thesis in Fashion and Textile Design. NABA: Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Advisor: Andrea Cammarosano, 2023, pp-122-142. (ita)