Portrait of America, the seminal work of David Datuna’s “Viewpoint of Billions” series, is a groundbreaking 12-foot multi-media flag and the first public installation and artwork in the world to utilize Google Glass. The vision of an artist whose story is akin to the American dream, Portrait of America chronicles the journey of a diverse and great nation through a new visual language. Presidents’ Day Weekend visitors of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery are invited to try on Glass and experience the artist’s interactive, multi-discipline work of art, with a unique opportunity to become a permanent part of the digital narrative unveiled within it.
The monumental flag, the first of 10 works in the “Viewpoint of Billions” series, is covered in Datuna’s signature style with hundreds of eyeglass lenses. Creating an experiential dialogue through a sculptural veil of optics, the artist uses different magnifications to draw the viewer to the thematic collage inside his work. The prismatic effects invite inspection, while offering a vehicle for observation, and expanding the definition of modern portraiture.
The work is a fascinating exploration of the American spirit and of individuals whose contributions have helped form, guide and define the United States as a culture and a nation. Many of the embedded images find parallels in adjacent galleries within the National Portrait Gallery, including disparate historical and contemporary figures such as George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., even Lady Gaga. Each resonates, in different ways, with a multi-cultural American audience. Poignant moments revealed within the flag recall generations of innovators who often dared to be different– figures like Nicholas Tesla, Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson, Lucille Ball and dozens more.
“I am intrigued to discover how people will interact with David Datuna’s Portrait of America,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery.”This work paired with an innovative device such as Google Glass, are exploring how art and technology can create a conversation with a visitor about the influential people who made, and are making America.”
On Presidents’ Day Weekend, the globally recognized artist will embody the American dream in the Great Hall of the National Portrait Gallery. In the same room the Declaration of Independence was once housed, and Abraham Lincoln attended his 2nd Inaugural Ball, David Datuna re-imagines the Stars and Stripes with Portrait of America.
In a dramatic visual expansion of his conceptual work, Google Glass provides a seamless way for the artist to extend his vision to the viewer through instant access to information and advanced sharing capabilities. Using this Twenty-First Century tool, Datuna’s visual language is fused with fragments of collective experience that define much of what is distinct in American culture. The themes provide not opinion, but a roadmap to identity and history, encouraging people to thoughtfully consider, ponder and respect individual viewpoints.
“David Datuna’s innovative approach to integrating Google Glass in his ‘Portrait of America,’ a 12-foot American flag sculpture from his ‘Viewpoint of Billions’ series, is perfect for the world of today. This forward-looking 21st century portrait invites the viewer to explore multiple layers of imagery and digital content simultaneously, and affords an opportunity to better understand the artist’s overall narrative of American history and identity. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery is delighted to invite the public to be among the first in the world to wear Glass and enjoy ‘Viewpoint of Billions’ this Presidents’ Day weekend,” said Nik Apostolides, Associate Director of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
Experiencing Portrait of America at National Portrait Gallery, February 15-17, 2014
During the three-day installation, the public is invited to visit the National Portrait Gallery to view the artwork with or without Google Glass, and enjoy the immersive experience it offers. Datuna’s American flag through its hundreds of optical lenses, will communicate directly with its audience, prompting questions and taking photos through the viewfinder of Glass. For those who opt in, the total experience is recorded though the built-in camera in Glass, and cameras imbedded in the artwork. Images in the artwork, along with your own voice, will trigger videos and interactive experiences that can be seen through the viewfinder of Glass. Guests will have their portraits taken wearing Glass, and the see-you see-me outcomes will be archived by the art and sent out via social media to share with the world. The artwork evolves with each interaction, creating a timeline to share with future generations comparing their points of view. Visitors will be able to go to datuna.com to see their digital collage of videos and portraits become a permanent part of the artworks traditional paint and paper collage.
8 to 10 Google Glass devices will be on location, where visitors are invited to interact with David Datuna’s “Portrait of America,” on the 3rd Floor in the Great Hall of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery from Feb. 15-17, 2014 from 11:30 am to 7:00 pm daily.
About David Datuna
David Datuna is a Georgian-born American artist (b. 1974, Tbilisi) now living in New York. Over the past several years Datuna’s noted series, Viewpoint of Millions, established his signature technique of laying a cascading veil of varying optical lenses over an intricate, multi-dimensional narrative. David Datuna exhibits widely in the US, Europe and Asia, and is well represented in important private collections worldwide. datuna.com
About National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story. The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000Website: npg.si.edu