When one thinks about their own personal identity, the things that make them unique, they may think about a great number of things. It could be their personality or their history. It could be their life’s work, their career. For some artists, they become known for their major, most famous contributions. Shepard Fairey, for example, will now forever be known as the OBEY artist and, of course, the artist of Obama’s HOPE image.
While there are many things every person can point to and say “that makes me unique,” we also have individual parts that make us unique, and one no more recognizable than our fingerprints. And for Dito Von Tease, the artist behind “Ditology,” the finger holds a special place: it’s where he makes his art.
Ditology is a personal project of an unknown Italian artist, Dito Von Tease, which comments on how our fingers and fingerprints are helping us stay anonymous in this digital age. The project sees Dito painting up his fingers as famous celebrities, be it historical figures or more recent celebrities, turning his individualized fingers, with their fingerprints, into renditions of familiar and famous people.
“In Italian someone could say I wanted to ‘hide myself behind my finger’ (nascondermi dietro un dito): it’s a popular metaphor to indicate a not-very-effective hiding place,” Von Tease explained in a piece for Bored Panda. “In the “digital age”, our fingers are the “tools” we use to keep in touch with the world through touch-screens, mouse pads and keyboards. In a sense, we are all “hiding behind a finger” while surfing the internet… Probably, even in the real life we hide ourselves behind an image of us: a mask we create to protect the uniqueness of our finger-print. This is true especially for celebrities, who live [behind] their masks.”
To date, Von Tease has created thousands of these fingerprint portraits, with subjects ranging from famous paintings like “The Mona Lisa” to beloved TV characters of days gone by, like “The Addams Family.” The series “Thubtastic,” according to Von Tease, references Facebook’s famous thumbs up symbol, which is a powerful commentary on the contemporary digital experience.
Anonymity on the internet has been a major issue almost since its inception. Social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, which allow people to create accounts without any connection to their “real world” identities, have only compounded this issue. Musician Jack White famously called the internet a “sea of cowards,” which ties directly to the ways people can harass without real consequences. But for Dito Von Tease, anonymity is a chance to provide some perspective, and some commentary, on our contemporary digital experience. By remaining anonymous themselves, Von Tease offers people a blank slate in which to enjoy his artwork.
Dito Von Tease’s artwork and finger portraits can be viewed on his website, which houses his many portraits as well as his numerous other artistic endeavours.