Portraits in Code

A project working with portraits from the Birmingham Museum Trust’s Digital Image Resource as a proposal for ‘Cut, Copy, Remix’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, April 2020. What is the relationship and defferences between a historic oil painting portriat and its digital twin? Material has been 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, re-coded for 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 digital dissection of his original portrait image.



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Matthew Richardson Artist + Illustrator
© Matthew Richardson 2021