-The Portrait of Sofia Imber- by Carlo Zanni, 2003 - 2011 - ongoing


"The Portrait of Sofia Imber" is a NewNewPortrait*

"The Portrait of Sofia Imber" was created in 2003 and after several years of silence it starts again in 2011.

The "Portrait of Sofia Imber" - a Venezuelan philanthropist - is shaped like a classic 32 x 32 pixel desktop icon. You can drag and drop it around your screen. In truth each pixel forming the Sofia's face (eyes, mouth and face's shape) isn't a normal and static color but a dynamic pixel-image.

Each pixel is an image taken from an online Google image searching process. The portrait keeps querying Google choosing randomly among 5 pre-programmed queries. Each image is then resized as 1x1 pixel size and imported into the portrait. Each image, being resized, takes a specific color depending on the color percentages of the original photo (a photo filled by a lot of red can become a red pixel).

The portrait refreshes every 15 seconds displaying new face expressions due to the color scheme obtained resizing the found images. Some of them can end being filled by white pixels so giving the feeling of missing pixels, ruining the original portrait layout.
This gives the portrait a kind of new expressionist value. The "pixel-images" forming the Sofia's face are browseable. It means you can click on them exploring their content.

Behind this work from 2003, lies my interest around the concept of "sign" and "mark". It is part of a series of works for which I tried to develop a tool** to draw lines and make patterns, using images, audio files and videos instead of classic colors.

*In May 2001 I registered a web domain, called Newnewportrait.com, formulating the basis of a personal attitude in making portraits using digital feedback as raw material. The name Newnewportrait comes from "The New New Thing", the well known book by Michael Lewis. In brief, it is a way to do portraits focusing on the temporary mental identities of the user and not only on his physical aspect. Works made through "digital footsteps" such as email accounts, web stats, desktop icons, workstation environment settings, cookies, wi-fi waves and search engines can be seen as NewNewPortraits.

** Query Fill is an under construction conceptual tool. It is a "live paintbrush", a "magic wand" giving "life" to drawings. Instead of having lines of pixels making the drawing, "Query Fill" uses images taken from search engine query results to generate it. People's behaviours affect the form and the content of the drawing. Because of the real time image finding process, these works tells us about our own life, and somehow, they get "old" as the famous Dorian Grey's Portrait by Oscar Wilde.

project credits