Scan Your World

Close your eyes while scanning or use your hands to cover them. Photograph/Laura Dyet

Close your eyes while scanning or use your hands to cover them. Photograph/Laura Dyet

Laura Dyet explores the fun of creating self portraits with the help of a scanner—an innovative alternative to using a camera.

My Assignment

  • Description
    This was an unintentional experiment that helped me discover a new perspective to portraiture—just by using a scanner.
  • Duration
    A few hours!
  • Notes
    Ensure that your eyes are completely shut while scanning as the light can cause retinal damage.

When we think of a scanner, we usually consider scanning documents, photos or negatives. But, do you know that it can be used instead of a camera? The idea is crazy and yet, is an effective way of creating artistic images. Popular as Scannography, it is a great tool to achieve fine art. What is more, you can make scannographs of yourself in the comfort of your home, as I discovered accidentally. However, do remember that keeping your eyes open while scanning can harm them.

My Perspective
Seven years ago, while I was scanning some documents, I was curious to see what would happen if I placed my face against the scanner. Excited by the results, I went ahead and scanned myself a few more times. I felt the joy of discovery each time I saw the outcome on my computer screen. It was entirely surreal!

The Process
I realised that scannography is quite a simple process. All I needed to do was place my head on the scanner and hit the scan button. For making self-portraits, I had to keep the lid of the scanner up. This resulted in a black background as the depth-of-field in a scanner is limited. Additionally, doing this experiment inside a dark room helped me play up the effect of light and colours in the final image.

I experimented with how I placed my head on the scanner, used my hands and generally tried out different expressions. The only thing I had to remember was to keep my eyes shut as the light from the scanner was really bright.

The idea was to experiment. I did it with my hands and face; but you could make use of different objects and arrange them in a varied manner. The best part is that one cannot predict the results so each time you scan you know its going to be a unique image in its own way.

Scanner Art with Everyday Objects!

  • Flower petals, staplers, vegetables, earrings etc can make great subjects. Avoid objects with sharp edges that can harm the scanner glass.
  • To scan liquids like eggs or colours, place them on a transparency. Remember to keep the scanner’s lid open to prevent damage.
  • Cover the subject and scanner glass entirely with a piece of black material so that light does not escape from the scanner. Experiment with backdrops of different colours and textures.
Tags: Better Pictures, January 2011, On Assignment, scanography