A contemporary take on the traditional genre of self-portraiture has won a COFA Fine Arts student the 2009 National Youth Self Portrait Prize.

First-time entrant, Hugh Marchant, took advantage of new criteria for the prize, that allowed new media and digital works to be included for the first time.

It takes almost three haunting minutes for the artist to reveal his identity in the multimedia self-portrait, Hugh, that was made using high definition cameras and an LCD television.

The 20-year-old was inspired by American experimental sound artist Alvin Lucier in creating the portrait. He displayed high definition footage on a TV then filmed it with another camera, then repeated the process until the video emerged in its present form.

"I did this up to 20 times until the video looked similar to a fingerprint or a zebra pattern," said Marchant.

The atmospheric soundtrack was created using the same method.

Hugh was the unanimous choice of the three judges: Louise Doyle and Helena Bezzina, from the National Portrait Gallery, and Stuart Bailey, from the Sydney College of the Arts.

"The most intriguing aspect of the award is the wide variety of options available to young artists working in portraiture, whether they use the street as their testing ground or develop an entirely new approach to portraiture through interactive new media," Stuart Bailey said.

Marchant intends to spend some of the $10,000 prize money during an upcoming term as an exchange student at the University of California, Berkeley.

The National Youth Self-Portrait Prize 2009 will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery.

Media Contact: Fran Strachan | 9385 8732 | fran.strachan@unsw.edu.au