Science of Portraiture : You be the Judge

Science of Portraiture is an experiment involving ABC Mornings Nick Rheinberger having his head measured, scanned, 3D printed, and depicted by artists.

The Science of Portraiture is an artist-led research project for National Science Week, involving artists from the Red Point Artists Association, facial anthropologist Dr Susan Hayes from the Centre for Archaeological Science at the University of Wollongong, the ABC Illawarra and the University of Wollongong’s Intelligent Polymer Research Institute. The project involves 12 RPAA artists producing a portrait under controlled conditions referencing a life-size monochromatic 3D print of the head and face of ABC Illawarra Mornings Presenter, Nick Rheinberger.

The opening is what RPAA are calling ‘Judgement Day’, as it involves Nick Rheinberger, his friends and family and members of the general public giving each unique portrait a likeness rating. These ratings will then be used as independent variables in a statistical shape analysis of the portraits using geometric morphometrics.

There is anecdotal evidence that highly accurate portraits are judged to be poor likenesses, but this is the first time this has been scientifically tested, the first time a science project has been led by artists, and a first for National Science Week. However, although the methods and results will constitute a formal collaborative art-science research paper, it is very likely some of the findings will be leaked to the media prior to publication.