Archive for November, 2007

MADA Final Proposal

Posted in Papers, Uncategorized on November 30, 2007 by nalm

MA Digital Arts
Project Proposal Essay
Nikolaos Almpanis

Working Title:
Digital Portraiture


Through the ages, portraiture has had many meanings and functions. To some it was a symbol of class, a close depiction of reality, others believed that to paint portraits is often to paint great history. Modern day society however has lost the art of portraiture due to today’s accessibility of image-capturing technology. Candid photography for example, which is usually described as immediate, unplanned and unobtrusive, is contrasted to classic photography, which includes aspects such as composition and carefully staged synthesis of the subject.


With today’s existing digital technology, time has presented a new opportunity to re-examine the process of portraiture with the development of a new digital aesthetic. The aim of this research will be to focus on human subjects and create fully developed portraits of their identity, using new digital and hybrid techniques. Essentially, I hope to redefine portraiture and it’s meaning in our contemporary society.


Drawing upon my previous training in fine art, I intend to apply traditional techniques, especially in regards to face and figure depictions through the aid of digital applications. This hybrid of technique and modern technology will integrate all the essential elements of traditional portraiture from the past, such as color, composition, and realism. Digital video and audio will also be fused in to further represent new dimensions of the human portrait.

Another objective of my project will be the development of a product that not only satisfies the needs of portraiture but also encompasses data storage, portability, accessibility and is transferable to most electronic devices of the market (DVD players, mobile phones, ipod, and video cameras).


For the successful completion of this project, I intend to perform: 1) extensive reading research 2) draw upon human subjects 3) investigate new technology and experiment with various media programs and 4) maintain a web Blog to document progression.

1) Reading Research

• Explore how multimedia influences and affects humans
• Research how art communicates with people through color and composition
• Investigate candid portraiture versus studio portraiture in the shaping of identity
• Research the purpose of portraiture throughout history (changes, aims, meaning of portrait)
• Research sound and specifically its role to film creation and narration
• Research portraiture from the view of anatomical paintings

2) Human Subjects and Media Experimentation:

• Interview and record audio from potential subjects of portraiture in order to gain information about their sentiments, habits and generally their daily life
• Video the subjects in different places and circumstances
• Attempt to draw emotion and feelings from the subjects to view possible changes in expression and body language and how that may influence their portrait

3) Technology and Media Programs:

• Improve skills with Final Cut Pro (video editing), Ableton Live (sound creation and mastering) and Resolume (live video creation & experimentation)
• Learn Apple Motion (video compositing)
• Experiment with MAX/MSP (interactive midi experimentation)

4) Blog:

• Write weekly thoughts, notes and research outcomes into my web Blog.
• Add digital media (pictures, videos, and sound) relative to the project.
• Also add my personal digital creations created through the process of my proposal (sound & video).

Risk Assessment

There are always potential risks involved with starting a new project. Low risk tasks involved are reading, researching, writing, and experimentation, as these will be carried out in the comfort of my own flat. Possible high risk factors involved are the loss of data and time and health-related symptoms (insomnia, blurred vision, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and orthopedic back problems).

Since some work will also be carried out in the field, there may be additional risk factors. Working outside, weather conditions and the environment can be unpredictable. High risks with fieldwork could involve damage, theft or loss of expensive equipment, getting lost in an unfamiliar city, and dangerous interaction with outside subjects.


Why a portrait?


• Noun 1) an artistic representation of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders (Oxford English Dictionary 2007 p8)

According to Oxford’s definition, an essential component to portraiture is the focus on the upper body. With such a close view, the quantity of information one can acquire from the human face and our expressions is endless. In addition, there is an ambiguous element associated with portraiture which leads you to question notions of why they are the way they are, they way they look, and so on due to the nature of portraiture being a captured moment in time.

Translated from Latin, “The face is the index of the soul.” (Cicero p8) Here Cicero poignantly points out that the face is a unique feature that best distinguishes a person. In addition, with it being on the upper portion of the body, it is the central starting point for thought and form and controls what the figure does.

Why use digital media?

With today’s new editing and compositing software being more accessible and affordable, it’s more possible for artists to learn new techniques and produce a higher quality of digital experimentation. Through technology, you are less bound by the same principles of traditional art (time, geography, and space), thus creating a virtual reality. Lev Manovich states, “Digital compositing now allows the designers to easily mix any number of visual elements regardless of the media in which they originated and to control each element in the process” (Manovich 2006 p8). Multimedia can provide a more fully realistic scope of a portrait and thus, an identity, by allowing many of our human senses to take part in viewing (sight, listening and touch). Though I think digital technology is still a relatively new medium, it can allow for portrait viewers to have a whole new experience.


To develop my proposal I m going to use:

• Adobe Photoshop CS3
• Apple Motion 3
• iDVD
• Ableton Live 6
• Resolume 2.3
• Final Cut Studio 2

• Apple iMac with 17” screen
• External Hard Disk 250 GB
• Sony handy-cam DCR TRV 33E
• Tripod
• Studio Lights
• Microphone/Studio Monitoring Headset
• Blue/Green Screen
• Projector


Phase One (Sept 07 – Nov 07)

Read and Research part>1
• Reading books and magazines relevant to digital art, multimedia, portraiture, computer music composition
• Web research to stay informed about art, design, music, technology
• Watch documentary films, experimental videos, DVDs from visual art festivals to understand techniques and obtain new ideas for video shooting and digital manipulation
• Visit exhibitions
• Learn Apple Motion and improve skills for Final Cut, Adobe Photoshop
• Improve skills for filming (frame, lights, composition, color)
• Research techniques of well known masterpieces of classic or contemporary portraiture
• Research deeper the audio, its limits and its capabilities in a video work as well as its relationship to the moving image
• Investigate contemporary artists that work with similar ideas or produce art with the same process

Phase Two (Dec 07 – Feb 08)

Read and Research part>2
• (Almost everything is at part>1)
• Question everything I do and why I do it, find answers

Experimentation and Production part>1
• Learn new software Apple Shake
• Improve skills with Ableton Live
• Experiment with video and sound techniques unfamiliar to me
• Interview the subjects and shoot them or record their interviews
• Manipulate digitally the shoots or the audio
• Identify the most important parts of my work that can be part of my final project
• Develop a unique way of narration and editing for the digital portraits

Phase Three (March 08 – May 08)

Experimentation and Production part>2
• Learn MAX/MSP
• Improve skills with Apple Shake
• Experiment with Resolume and VJ techniques
• Create the digital portraits
• Add interactivity at my project

Phase Four (June 08)

Presentation and Post Masters


Modernity has provided time and new technology to re-examine the process of portraiture and the representation of one’s identity. Fusing traditional techniques with digital composting methods, I hope to redefine portraiture and it’s meaning in our contemporary society.

Overall in satisfactory completion of the project, I will be able to demonstrate:

• Digital portraits of different subjects based in video narration
• Digital portraits of different subjects based on audio
• Digital portraits of different subjects with both video narration and audio
• A DVD containing the complete project in multiple formats
• Skills in research through practice
• Skills in developing work through new methodology
• An ability to apply skills learned from video and sound composition software to produce a new integrative art medium
• Advanced practical skills in Adobe Apple Motion/ Shake and
Ableton Live
• Advanced practical skills in video shooting, editing and filmmaking
• An ability to manage my time productively for the completion of a specific project
• An ability to organize my thoughts and post them on the web


Digital Art – Video Art – New Media
David, C. (2007) A History Of Artist’s Film And Video In Britain, London: British Film Institute
De Meredieu, F., (2005) Digital And Video Art
Geldzahler, H., Rosenblum, R. (1993), Andy Warhol Portraits, Great Britain: Thames and Hudson Ltd.
Manovich, L. (2001) The Language Of New Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Murray, J. (1997) Hamlet On The Holodeck : The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, New York: The Free Press
Ratcliff, C., Grubb, N. (1983) Andy Warhol, 1st ed. New York : Cross Rivers Press

Schirmer (1987), Helmut Newton Portraits, 1st ed. Munchen

Brenneis, L., Lodvig, J. (2002), Final Cut Pro: For Macintosh
Scott, K. (2005), The Photoshop CS2 Book: For Digital Photographers, United States Of America

Films & DVDs
One Dot Zero Festival, (2005) One Dot Zero Select DVD: Aventures in moving Image
Palletes (2002), Jaubert, A., From Duchamp to Pop Art, 90 mins
(1983), Coppola, F., Koyaynisquatsi Life out of Balance , 1hr 23mins
Sokurov, A. (2002) , Russian Ark, 99mins

Cicero, De Oratore 3/59:221, (Internet), Available from
<; (Accessed 1 November, 2007
CompactOxfordDictionary, (2007), (Internet), Available from <; (Accessed 7 November, 2007)
Manovich, L. (2006), After Effects, or Velvet Revolution- part1 2006 | motion graphics, (Internet), Available from <; (Accessed 10 October, 2007)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (2007), Gilbert Stuart,(Internet), Available from <>(Accessed 7 November, 2007)


1W13 Motion and blue screen

Posted in MADA Assessment on November 25, 2007 by nalm

A study of blue screen. Ambient background with contrasted hard sounds. Part of my studies for backgrounds that will be probably used on the portrait.

1W12 Combine edges study

Posted in MADA Assessment on November 21, 2007 by nalm

Another study for background. The video footage was old but i further manipulate it to get a different aesthetic. Multiple layers are combined.

1W11 Visual Creations

Posted in Uncategorized, Video For Portraiture on November 16, 2007 by nalm

This is the funny part of being a digital artist. Visual creations made only with video composition techniques and based on the element i love so much… sound! This edit of an old footage of video clips i had in my library, apart giving me great time and pleasure fixing it up, is another study on the ambiguous relationship of sound and image.

1W10 Understanding the process (part 5)

Posted in MADA Assessment on November 12, 2007 by nalm

4. Manipulation of the hybrid project

In my recent posts i explained a big part of the process i m gonna follow for the creation of the digital portrait. Although it doesn’t seem so clear, now that i go through it, i believe that by practicing it technically, this state of anxiety will end. So far i talked about the interview, the manipulation of image and sound and the additional media i will use. At that moment the project will seem finished but i think a final control will be essential.

1W10 Understanding the process (part4)

Posted in MADA Assessment on November 11, 2007 by nalm

3. Extra media

This is the third action of the process i m thinking to follow. After video shooting the subject and manipulating the video footage and the audio i m gonna use and mix several media to support the project. I want to use as much elements as i can, to construct a very informative data library for the person which i m building the portrait. I will achieve that by adding a)pictures b)text c)audio . They can be:

a) pictures that inspire the subject, influence it psychologically, historical or family one, heroes or avatars, in general pictures that characterize the subject.

b) text can be personal statements of the subject, phrases or maxims, thoughts or ideas. Words also can be used to clarify emotional parts of the video footage or to multiply the strength of feelings created by the exact moment.

c)sound or music will accompany the interview to help the viewer of the portrait, to receive the emotional situation of the subject. Light sounds for lighter moments and hard sounds for difficult moments

Generally every media i m going to use will make the project more informative.

1W10 MADA Forum 2min video

Posted in MADA Assessment, Video For Portraiture on November 9, 2007 by nalm

This is my proposal for our forum presentation. Actually is a compositing study related to face expressions and how video composition can elect them.

prison mary vlm1