Serendipity happens when I least expect it (is that redundant?). It began when a fellow blogger, Frizz, from Germany used two of my photos as subjects for watercolor sketches in a book that he is compiling for his grandchild. This got me thinking about the subject of Art and its various forms—seascape, portraiture, landscape, abstract, realism, etc.
I began to think about the various mediums used to create Art: For instance: watercolor, pencil, charcoal, oil paint, or pen & ink (one of my favorites) applied to paper, canvas, cloth, wood, or brick.
A few of my friends are digital/vfx artists and create wondrous works of art with a digital stylus and electronic pad for the Gaming Industry and Hollywood films. Times have changed and a lot of options are available that were never dreamed of 500 years ago.
This doesn’t take anything away from the talented Renaissance Masters, I am just saying that Art has evolved and new avenues of expression have not only opened up, they didn’t exist until this moment in History. The concept of the Dynamic Portrait is one such avenue.
When I think of the word Portrait, in my mind it is prefaced with an unspoken preface: “sitting for a”. Whether it is a sidewalk caricature, a formal photograph, or an appointment with an Portrait Artist, we are passive subjects, for the most part, and who we are in that moment-in-time is captured forever for all to see—a day, a week, a year or a lifetime later.
But consider this: What if the portrait of us changed over time, just as we do, even when we do? I’m not talking about an electronic slideshow of selfies updated daily—I am talking about a look at ourselves that changes minute by minute over the course of a day based on what we are doing, how we are feeling, how are bodies are changing.
You guessed it, it is not a standard portrait with recognizable facial features, hair, or body shape. This portrait is made up of data and that data is gathered from a combination of fitness trackers and a computer interface which transmits answers to a survey via the internet to fiber-optic threads which are woven into a display panel.
This technological advance is the work of Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese. Their exhibit, IAMI, is on display in San Francisco at the Catharine Clark Gallery thru January 3rd of next year.
Catharine Clark Gallery
248 Utah Street, San
Francisco, CA 94103
According to the Press Release, “…IAMI is constructed of a series of fiber optic panels woven on a hand-loom and attached to a custom-made, computer controlled lighting system, which displays information from the internet through the tapestry’s fiber optic threads. This newest work is two self-portraits of Ligorano and Reese, sourcing the artists’ individual personal data to create IAMI’s imagery. Private data from the couple’s Fitbits feed the IAMI software, creating algorithms that generate constantly changing patterns of color and light.
While this particular iteration of the project are two portraits of the artists, the work is designed to be a commissionable work. Three times per day, IAMI contacts the “sitter” of the por trait by SMS or email with eleven questions which the sitter inputs using a mobile device. These responses are displayed as changing color fields. The choice of coloration for the fiber optic threads, drawn from Thai/Khmer colors of the day and Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions, gives a blended sense of the day, types of activities and scale of emotions experienced by the sitter. The portrait is never static, but constantly changing over time with the subject.
…IAMI unites the concerns of sculpture and painting with the art of tapestry and is a stunning exploration of data visualization and the use of information as a palette.”
In my 15 years at the Golden Gate Bridge Electric Shop, we installed thousands of feet of conduit and pulled miles of fiber-optic cable, but I never imagined this use for the data traveling thru it. I am going to be in San Francisco this coming Thursday and, if time allows, I plan to go to the Catharine Clark Gallery to view this exhibit in person. Stay tuned for that update.
This I•M•I video will give you more insight into this remarkable work of art.
NOTE: A special THANK YOU goes to Katharine James at the Catharine Clark Gallery for supplying the high resolution photos used in this post. I hope to meet you this week.
Related Source: These Artists Turned Fitbit Data into a Connected Canvas