Portraits in Code

A proposal for working with portraits from the Birmingham Museum Trust’s Digital Image Resource as part of ‘Cut, Copy, Remix’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, April 2020. What might the relationship be between a painted portriat and its digital twin? Material is translated from oil paint to pixels and coded data. This new medium is infinitely fluid - the individuals released to enter the digital realm to be seen, shared, and liked. Their poses, personas and clothing coded in the past, now re-coded in the present.  

Each new portrait uses and re-uses only what is contained in the original scan of the painting. The re-constructions have an echo in the occupations and preoccupations of the sitters  –  their past activities processed through various digital actions. Examples are William Phipson, inventor of a steel roller,  stretched and flattened, a miniature of G.F Watts, a painter and sculptor becomes a digital sculpture, Sir John Franklin, arctic explorer is pictured through digital shards, and the portrait of surgeon, John Derrington is a dissection of his original portrait.
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Matthew Richardson Artist + Illustrator
© Matthew Richardson 2022