At Cosmopolitan’s P3Studio, artists JW Caldwell and Todd Duane Miller have brought in their records, their knickknacks, their art supplies and their friends, and are working tirelessly on their duet of an artist residency, in which they photograph twosomes, halve the portraits and then piece them together to create morphed images, allowing similar traits to trick the eye.
“It’s funny when couples realize how much they look like each other,” Caldwell says while painting a portrait in his color separation camouflage-pattern style of a twosome that has been photographed—one side of the female’s face pieced with one side of the bearded male’s face. “Husbands and wives look like they could be brothers and sisters.”
Miller is sitting at a table behind him, smudging away the paper of a photo transfer. In the adjoining room, the photo transfers hang on one wall, the paintings on another. Images of both are posted at millerandcaldwell.com.
Though Caldwell and Miller share a studio and run the Las Vegas Backyard Wall project, this is their first artist collaboration. Miller photographs the participants, aligns half of each face with the other, prints out the portraits, hands Caldwell the photocopy to work from and then creates his own photo transfer, giving the image an aged effect.
Miller regards the project as an interesting social experiment, particularly with the narcissism theory of couples looking alike, but explains that with all pairings—friends, cousins, mothers and daughters, spouses—the body types and features could not look more different outside of the photo.
The results are surprising, regardless of compilations mixing race, age and gender. Those who come in solo are randomly matched up with another photo. The faces are occasionally enlarged or reduced to enable a smooth match.
“The whole project is designed to showcase the similarities and the differences, because they’re inseparable,” Caldwell says. “When you put them together, your brain is filling in the blank spaces. Her face is accentuating his feminine side. His face is accentuating her masculine side. Your brain is trying to figure it out and it puts together the composition.”
P3Studio is filling up with visitors as Miller prepares to photograph a retro-looking couple—a blonde bombshell and a bearded rockabilly type. The workspace takes on a house-party feel.
“They said, ‘Make yourselves at home,’ so we took that to heart,” Caldwell says, nodding toward the shelf of records next to a phonograph while someone grabs a bottle of water from a fridge they brought in.
Face 2 FaceThrough August 10; Wednesday-Sunday, 6-11 p.m. Cosmopolitan’s P3Studio, 702- 698-7000. Closing reception August 8