How 2 Million Dots Can Restore a Life

If you’ve read The Laws of Subtraction, you know that I spent time with Kevin Sprouls, the originator of the Wall Street Journal dot portrait style, known as a hedcut. Metaphorically, the art of strategically placing dots–limiting just the right amount of information–so that others may connect them (in their own way) engages the imagination. Now, one artist has taken it upon himself to kick up the dot technique a few notches and use it to help restore the identity of Benjamin Kyle.

Who’s Benjaman Kyle? As artist Miguel Endara explains on his site: Benjaman Kyle is the pseudonym adopted by a man who has dissociative amnesia. He was discovered unconscious on August 31, 2004, and is believed to be about 64 years old, and is the only American citizen officially listed as missing despite his whereabouts being known.

Using 2.1 million dots, Miguel produced the amazing portrait you see here, which he makes available as a limited edition for under $100. Miguel is dedicating 50% of the proceeds to helping Benjaman Kyle retrieve a new Social Security Number and to get his life back on track.

Here are some closeups of Miguel’s technique at work. I can’t imagine the focus and patience involved. But that’s what makes the effect to impressive, and the outcome so valuable. No photograph, no matter how artfully rendered, could achieve the same level of impact.

Here’s the finished piece.

Here’s Miguel with Benjamin and the finished piece.