The Remote Portraiture Project aims to explore the tradition of artistic portraiture framed within the context of today’s technology. For this project, I will be creating portraits of individuals located all around the world using videoconferencing technology to capture their images from my studio computer. The finished pieces will be executed as hand-painted works combining traditional and digital media, based on still images captured via video calls between our locations.
These works aim to “tell the story” of each individual in some way, based on the conversation and context of each remote “photo shoot”. The subjects will be people who have influenced my path as an artist, such as writers, designers, curators, entrepreneurs, and other artists. A goal of this project is to present a diverse range of individuals residing in different locations with a diverse range of backgrounds. The works will be presented with background information on each individual to provide context for the piece.
When I was living in Manhattan’s East Village in the mid-1990’s, I became interested in the nascent technology of videoconferencing. I began with CU-SeeMe, the first desktop videoconferencing platform, which was developed by Tim Dorcey at Cornell University (hence the “CU”). I eventually shifted to iVisit, the next-gen app, also authored by Dorsey.
Over the course of my adventures in iVisit video chatrooms, I met many interesting people who were similarly tech-minded (this was a long time from the ubiquitous Skype and Facetime calling of today). I thought it would be interesting to use this technology within the context of portraiture, and began a series of vector-based portraits based on online video stills, created with the participation of my subjects. Some examples are below:
All of the subjects were fellow videoconferencing users, whom I did not know outside of the confines of “the cam”. They were people who liked my idea of “remote portraiture”, and were willing to sit for me. They were scatted across the globe, from California to Holland. The works were composed in 1998, and printed in 2006 (archival printing had to catch up as a mature technology before I actually made these digital works into physical objects).
Fast forward to the present: About a year ago, I was asked to participate in a group show called “The Irrational Portrait Gallery”, organized by photographer Rick Wenner and FRESH, a Long Island-based artist collective.
Wenner photographed a group of 21 Long Island-based artists, and each artist was given a large-format print (or in my case, a digital file) to base a self-portrait on, giving the image their own special interpretation and treatment. The project was exciting to work on, and it had been ages since I had done any sort of portraiture; through the past 15 years, my work has leaned closer to abstraction than figuration.
My 60 x 40 inch piece ended up being executed with oil paint and pigment print on linen (image below).
After this recent return to portraiture, I have decided to develop this idea into a more fully-developed project, executed on a larger scale. I am currently seeking funding, exhibition space, and subjects for the Remote Portraiture Project.
Please contact the studio if you are interested in participating or learning more.