The two responses above were offered for the same original set of words:

Perspective, alien, unsettling, interesting, pleasing… The one on the left identified the portrait, the one on the right chose a different one, who do you think the description is about?
The second episode of my Chinese Whispers style of experiment with transmission of information was an interesting development from the first session. As I considered the original responses to specific portraits, what was interesting to me was how words can be so subjective as to potentially offer a description which could represent a number of other pieces. In which case, could a random recipient of such a response be able to relocate the original source?

So this was my quest, to engage the Saturday audience with 2 tasks: take one description from an unknown person and see if they could locate the original portrait and then once they had made their decision, to find their own response to this portrait.
Who was this?
…the same person as the above two responses?… in fact the same as the previous two…. Duncan Alexander Goodhew portrayed through 5 pairs of eyes.

Two things were important to identify:
1. That it was a less a case of being right or wrong to identify the portrait from the description.
2. It was of greater importance to consider why a decision was made and what this brought to the gallery experience.
A particularly wide range of people took part, and all concluded that this extra focus encouraged their interaction and consideration of what a particular portrait was communicating. It also heightened their awareness of the very subjective assumptions which we make, when looking at such an image as filmed portrait, and how this influences our subsequent memory and what we might pass on to others about our experience.
The above response was to what was actually a response to one of Peter Gidal’s portraits in Heads, but encouraged some amused dialogue between a mother and son about the nature of the Cactasia!, and certainly wouldn’t have been a choice of focus without my request.
I enjoyed responding myself to different conversations and by making my own decisions on who to give which kind of a trigger set of words. More subtle and less specific for some, more playful for others, sometimes giving people a portrait which was different to one they identified most with, at other times doing the opposite to see if they could recognise it through a different perception.
The above response on the right was a great visual portrait and also accurate in tracing Wearing’s 2 into 1, from a first description which was relatively straightforward.
In most cases I had added my own ‘noise’ to the transmission process, by removing words from the original response which could make it too obvious which of the portraits was being referred to. It was something of a revelation to me to see how many people tuned in to the correct choice. Many people were torn between a correct choice and a different one, so were instinctively able to track the path back.
These were responses to Non-specific Threat, from a quite poetic original set of words by an artist and writer from the previous session, whose style in itself then encouraged an interaction of depth and creative expression.

This therefore became an opportunity to move through the perceptions of others towards the essence of a portrait, seeing through their eyes then again through the camera lens and finally with a different view both objective and responsive to a charming elderly lady smoking and laughing, or a young woman crying etc.
These words described Portrait of Ga, but were also thought to portray the subject of the Bee Fever, and who could argue with that. Thank you to all who took time to contribute, such as the art teacher Chris Mansell from Lewes, and for a great deal of intense concentration and interesting responses.
Posted by Ryan Coleman on Monday 14 March 2011