[ISEA2019] Artist Statement: João Martinho Moura – How Computers Imagine Humans?

Artist Statement

Code, iMac, projectors, speakers, dimensions variable.

In this media artwork, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used against AI to discover How Computers Imagine Humans, using a selected computer visual noise (one computer) and an AI face detector system (another computer). Both systems are running in real-time against each other, using just built-in cameras to communicate. In recent years, face detection technologies have been widely used by artists to create digital art. Face detection provides new forms of interaction and allows digital artifacts to detect the presence of human beings, through video capture and facial detection, in real-time. In this work, an algorithm proposed by Paul Viola and Michael Jones, is explored to generate imagined faces from visual randomness. Unusual use of the facial detection algorithms intended to do the opposite of what it is supposed to achieve: instead of trying to locate and capture faces, it generates facial images ‘imagined’ by a computer through the exploration of hypothetical possibilities. This work focuses on a particular point: we humans have created methods and instructions so that computers can easily detect ourselves, and, in this case, this knowledge is used to generate abstract pictorial face results. More than what if offers in terms of visualization of what is behind algorithms, this work, as it is presented, with two machines interacting with each other without a wired or wireless connection, demonstrates the ‘knowledge’ we, humans, try to implement into machines to detect ourselves — awareness about these technologies and their effects (positive or negative) on our society. The result is a ghost-human face, made by mathematics and probabilities, appearing very slowly as the algorithms work over time.

  • João Martinho Moura is a researcher and media artist born in Portugal. His interests lie in digital art, intelligent interfaces, digital music, and computational aesthetics. Moura has a particular interest in real-time visualization, art & science, and interactive digital artifacts. For the past decade, he has been adopting new ways to represent the body in digital media, creating interactive audiovisual artifacts, mostly represented by monochromatic visual abstractions and minimalist lines. Moura has presented his work and research in a variety of art venues and conferences worldwide and has collaborated in art/science works for INL (International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory), ESA (European Space Agency) and the European Commission STARTS (Arts and Science) initiative. Moura is a member of the Braga Media Arts, UNESCO Creative Cities Network and has received in Lisbon, the National Multimedia Art & Culture Award, for his contributions in the field of the media arts in Portugal. His work was included in Processing Curated Collection (USA, 2008), Selected Works Ars Electronica Animation Festival (Linz, 2012), the SLSA Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (USA, 2013), the NATO Arts Program (Brussels, 2019).