About the Photographer
Sabrina Raaf, a new media artist and photographer based in Chicago, is perhaps best known for her experimental sculptures, which often have innovative technological components, and her robotic works that respond to the surrounding environment or human interaction. Since 2004 she has also worked on multiple series of large, vertical panoramic photographs that similarly draw on her interests in architecture and advancing technology.
The series Test People (2004-2007) portrays, in Raaf's words, "a future place in time where a capacity for flight (or controlled antigravity) has been developed in humans. It’s boundaries are being studied and tested." These photographs depict various characters—test subjects—as they struggle to reconcile these new capabilities with their existing, if largely empty, domestic environments. While visibly dealing with issues such as the body, the dynamics of mobility, and people's relation to space, the photographs are also intended as reflections on larger cultural questions in our time. In a 2007 interview, Raaf described how the appearance of flight in these images is a metaphor for our evolving human desires and how on a deeper level they may not actually accord with what we want. "The things in our culture today that we're so obsessed with—connectivity and speed, the newest and the latest, and other things that we seem to want—bring us a lot of imbalance and a lot of turbulence and unhappiness. The antigravity and weightlessness of the images is used as a stand-in for that."
Raaf completed a BSFS from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University (1994), and an MFA in Art and Technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999). Since 2004, she has been an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Electronic Visualization Department at University of Illinois at Chicago. She previously taught digital media at Columbia College Chicago.