Variation and Likeness in Ambient Artistic Portraiture
An artist-led exploration of portrait accuracy and likeness involved 12 Artists producing 12 portraits referencing a life-size 3D print of the same Sitter. The works were assessed during a public exhibition, and the resulting likeness assessments were compared to portrait accuracy as measured using geometric morphometrics (statistical shape analysis). Our results are that, independently of the assessors' prior familiarity with the Sitter's face, the likeness judgements tended to be higher for less morphologically accurate portraits. The two highest rated were the portrait that most exaggerated the Sitter's distinctive features, and a portrait that was a more accurate (but not the most accurate) depiction. In keeping with research showing photograph likeness assessments involve recognition, we found familiar assessors rated the two highest ranked portraits even higher than those with some or no familiarity. In contrast, those lacking prior familiarity with the Sitter's face showed greater favour for the portrait with the highest morphological accuracy, and therefore most likely engaged in face-matching with the exhibited 3D print. Furthermore, our research indicates that abstraction in portraiture may not enhance likeness, and we found that when our 12 highly diverse portraits were statistically averaged, this resulted in a portrait that is more morphologically accurate than any of the individual artworks comprising the average.