The image of the Prophet Joseph Smith that was re-created on the computer screen by a Provo man is now being cast in bronze in Lehi.
Shannon Tracy, who developed what he believes to be a more realistic view of the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his brother, Hyrum, using original death masks and computer wizardry, has combined forces with Bull River artist Gary Smith and his son Christopher to create full-size busts of the pair.They're being cast at Lehi Metal Letters on the anniversary of the prophet's Carthage Jail martyr-dom.
"We thought that was appropriate," said Tracy, who devoted 18 months of intense study into the research of the prophet and his physical makeup prior to the publication of his book, "In Search of Joseph."
Along the way, Tracy discovered that death masks of the two, in possession of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had been reversed. He was using the death masks as maps for his 3-D computer images.
Now, he and Gary Smith have found the computer images fit a daguerreotype photograph the RLDS Church has had in its possession since 1962.
"It's a little bit different look than people are used to seeing of Joseph," said Tracy, "but we have found such a compelling similarity that we took it and created the bronze castings using our research and the photograph."
Smith said analysis of the death masks and the photograph shows about 30 points of verification. "We need 10 points to be sure on these things," he said. "There's probably a 90 percent chance that this photo is of Joseph."
Brigham Young University's computer imaging department is currently studying the same points, as is the FBI, said Gary Smith.
"We're pretty much there," said Tracy, who had agreed to help try and identify the picture for RLDS historian Ronald E. Romig after he finished his computer work on Joseph Smith.
Using the photograph, Tracy helped Christopher Smith add the finishing touches to the busts that bring Joseph more closely to what Tracy believes he really looked like. They added more flesh in the cheeks, a "bit of a cleft in the chin" and a hairstyle popular in the period that lies to the right side.
"We've always been willing to make any adjustments we needed to make," said Tracy. "This work is a process."
Eventually Tracy and the Smiths plan to do full-body life-size models of the two brothers and an animation of the Carthage Jail murders.
In the meantime, the limited-edition busts of Joseph and Hyrum will sell for $25,000 a set. Only 30 to 50 castings will be done.