Portraits is an investigation into recognition, familiarity and the fine line between abstraction and clarity. Referencing classical portraiture, we looked to emulate the moment an artwork transforms from a series of brush strokes, or pixels on a screen, into a human form. The resulting film is a celebration of the finished portraits, material details and fleeting moments of familiarity.
Alongside the film, we amassed a body of work that specifically explored the point at which a portrait becomes legible. Using a variety of software and data, we ran simulations at different lengths to trace our subjects, revealing the point at which each image crosses the line from abstract wires to intentionally drawn lines.
Read the foreword by Harriet Lloyd-Smith, Arts Editor of Wallpaper*.
We captured head and shoulder models of several members of our team using LiDAR scanning data. These formed the base from which we could explore ways in which to draw, sculpt and render facial details. Once drawn, we assigned physical materials to the models and started to frame them as a series of portraits. Subtle movements were then added to the builds to bring the sculptures to life.
One of the many advantages of working in CG is the ability to get into places traditional cameras can’t. This meant we could explore inside each portrait, moving around the fibres of each one in a unique way, akin to peeling away the layers of a painting.
With a method established, we were able to explore the point at which abstract lines start to become legible forms. Through a series of incremental simulation lengths and a variety of data sources – including the colour data of the sitter in question – we could find the point at which a human face appears.