Likely the final installment of a broader series begun in 1997, each of these pictures employs the bulk of the portrait oeuvres of Franz Hals, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Anthony van Dyck, and Diego Velazquez, respectively. Simple mean-averaging of high-quality reproductions yields these atmospheric meta-portraits.
During the summer of 2009, I spent some time strolling around the painting galleries of the Prado, Louvre, and Met with my father, a painter himself. The repetitive and contemplative nature of these walks resulted in the Portrait project. The "Hals vs Rembrandt" room at the Met, in particular, preternaturally pushed me towards applying my averaging strategies to Old Masters' works. The Met's acquisition of the Hals piece within a few months of its completion made the process all the more satisfying.
An issue remains, however. As I noted in the project's description, museum sales or not, I don't see doing any more averaging-style amalgation work. In 1997, when I first blended 120 Playboy centerfolds, I was not aware of anything much like it (I only knew Nancy Burson's exceptional "morph" work). As it stands now, a once open area of inquiry has become so crowded, I don't much feel like I have anything left to contribute to this particular conversation. You never know, I just don't see it happening. Down the road, I'll try to expand on this topic.
Tech notes on the amalgamation body of work:
Most of the early amalgamation print work (Playboy, Class, Homes, 76BJs) was made with code I wrote in C on Unix-based SGIs using Paul Haeberli's SGI file format.
Later amalgamation work (Decades, Late Night, Special Moments) was done in C/C++ on Windows boxes with the ImageMagick C++ libraries. I did The Song of the Century manually with PC audio software (I honestly cannot remember what software, but I did download a few of the cover songs with the original Napster)
For the City and Loop pieces, we actually modelled much of Chicago's Loop as semi-transparent, textured rectangles and rendered this "city" from typical tourist vantage points. All of this was done in Maya. The Portrait pieces were done with Processing.