The Story Portrait™: a New Genre of Personal Representation




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People have been depicted in two-dimensional works of portraiture—drawings, paintings, and frescos—since ancient times. Similarly, the use of written and spoken narratives to describe individuals is as old as language itself. While images and language have been used concurrently in countless ways, this dissertation explores how they can be more directly conjoined in a new and powerful genre of personal representation. The Story Portrait™ is an art form that melds the visual and the verbal in an effort to go beyond the depiction of physical appearance in a single moment by also providing insight into the subject’s character. At its core, a Story Portrait™ is a trompe-l’oeil image that appears to be a monotone or duotone photographic portrait of an individual, but that, upon closer inspection, reveals in its tints and shades not flat planes of color but, rather, the typeset words of that person’s autobiographical “story.” Whether it is an abbreviated recapitulation of a life or the recollection of a particular moment, the crafted story not only allows viewers to see the person’s face, but also understand a portion of that individual’s history and—based on the vocabulary, voice, and tone of the testimony—gain insight into his or her personality and moral fiber. The additional integration of new media has the power to transform that representation into a more engaging and memorable experience for viewers. The exhibition that accompanies this dissertation includes the Story Portrait™ in a variety of static, animated, and multimedia formats that depict historical figures, fictional characters, and more. Those examples not only trace my development of this art form from its initial concept and presentation, but also demonstrate the variety of ways in which a Story Portrait™ can be leveraged to engage, educate, and entertain.



Fine Arts, Literature, General