This is not a photograph

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It's a hand-pixelated portrait (over 2-million individual dots, in total, drawn in the onomatopoetically named style known as stippling) of Benjamen Kyle, the only American citizen to be officially recognized as "missing," despite his whereabouts being known. Colossal's Christopher Jobson explains:

In 2004 an unconscious man was discovered behind a fast food restaurant in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had no belongings, severe sunburn, and was nearly blind from cataracts. The man also had absolutely no idea who he was. After months of ongoing evaluation from doctors and psychologists it was determined he was suffering from dissociative amnesia. He adopted the pseudonym Benjaman Kyle and has embarked on a search for his true identity sparking massive amounts of media coverage and even a short film, Finding Benjaman, by John Wikstrom.

The portrait is the work of a remarkably talented (and remarkably patient) artist by the name of Miguel Endara, who was moved to help raise awareness about Kyle's situation, and help him acquire a new social security number after viewing Wikstrom's film. (The government refuses to issue a social security number to someone it claims already has one — even if he can't remember it — a bureaucratic hurdle that has kept Kyle from opening a bank account or having a credit card.)


"The hope," explains Jobson, "is to spread awareness for Benjaman's plight and to help raise money through the sale of prints to support a petition to get him a new social security number."


Questions concerning the truthfulness of Kyle's claims have swirled for years, and many remain unconvinced about his impaired memory — but most medical experts who have spent time with him agree that Kyle's diagnosis is legitimate. From an exhaustive article published by The Guardian in 2010:

In August 2008 Kyle saw Dr King, a specialist in psychological and neuropsychological evaluation. King examined Kyle extensively and reviewed all the medical records from Memorial hospital since the day of his discovery; staff there have confirmed they supplied the records that same month. King's report makes fascinating, if uncomfortable, reading.

After he was discovered in 2004, Kyle had separate periods of catatonic psychosis in September 2004 and again in October 2004. He was "diagnosed with schizophrenia" and treated with antipsychotic medication from October 2004 to January 2005. The report reveals that when Kyle underwent an appendectomy operation, it was against his will, because he was deemed "mentally incompetent to make medical decisions at this time".

Having analysed Kyle's medical notes, King subjected him to 21 separate neuropsychology tests. His conclusion was definitive. Kyle has "disassociative amnesia" which is a "manifestation of a psychiatric illness". This fits within Kopelman's definitions for psychological-driven retrograde amnesia. King states that Kyle's behaviour "is not suggestive of malingering" and the final sentence of his report ends: "To him, his lack of memory prior to 2004 is real."


Read more about Kyle at The Guardian. For more detailed views of Endara's process, visit Colossal, where you'll also find Wikstrom's short documentary.