Portraits in Code

A proposal for ‘Cut, Copy, Remix’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 2020. Using  portraits from the Birmingham Museum Trust’s Digital Image Resource, I wondered what the connection might be between a painted portriat and its digital twin? Material is translated from oil paint to pixels and coded data. The individuals 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 image uses and re-uses only what is contained in the original painting. The re-constructions have an echo in the occupations and preoccupations of the sitters. William Phipson, inventor of a steel roller,  is 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.

© Matthew Richardson 2024