Face the face
December 2, 2014 4:28 PM   Subscribe

"Facebook actually makes masks out of everyone’s faces." Artist Sterling Crispin creates DATA-MASKS as a way to physically present the abstract data structures that Facebook and biometric surveillance systems use to pull a face from a crowd.
posted by a lungful of dragon (9 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome. I always wondered what my knobby cranial protruberances and parasitic sideface looked like to Facebook.

FPP skimmers, don't miss Demon Calista Flockhart in the third link, unless you'd rather not have your nightmares haunted forever.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:35 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you squint at the mutant photos, you can sort of see why facial recognition software would recognize them as actual faces. We've reached the point where AI is sort of like a senile old man with horrible vision but who's still nosy as hell and is constantly in everyone's business whether they want him to be or not.
posted by surazal at 4:43 PM on December 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think this is really interesting as both art and a technical demonstration of what facial-detection algorithms are really looking at. They're hallucinating. But, then, so do we. We see faces in everything. Mumble mumble Peter Watts mumble mumble...

But phrases like "DATA-MASKS are animistic deities brought out of the algorithmic-spirit-world of the machine and into our material world" turn me right off. It's art-jargon for no good reason. In what sense are they "deities"? It reads like a freshman English paper.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:51 PM on December 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

I don't want to be a spoil-sport, but this is kind of bogus. As the article says, "[Crispin] 'evolves' a two-dimensional image from the composite, [...] He stops the iterative process before the algorithm has created a perfect face, resulting in the strange mutations of his images."

In other words, he takes a randomized optimization algorithm (genetic algorithms) and doesn't run it to completion, and is surprised when the result looks a lot like noise with some facial features. Well no duh.

As an experiment, I took his ten faces from the article (five 3d masks and five 'flat' images) and fed them into google to see what google's face recognition would think, and google didn't recognize any of the masks as faces, and only two of the images as faces (the two that look like faces). So yeah, his masks are not fooling anything.
posted by Pyry at 5:29 PM on December 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

See: Pareidoloop.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:35 PM on December 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

A couple years ago, my friends tried confusing Facebook's algorithms by tagging themselves in pictures of chicken nuggets, which-- come to think of it-- look an awful lot like these masks. Subthought: somewhere out there may lie your nugget datamask doppelganger!
posted by Perko at 6:00 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Every time you take a "test" you add to the data base, especially linguistic tests, "we can guess what part of the country you came from", were we right? We are a talking hologram by now with the contents of our wallets frst, then our minds.
posted by Oyéah at 10:04 PM on December 2, 2014

Working for Google some time ago, I was invited to give a talk at a conference on "Computational Aesthetics." For part of that talk, I collected and showed a collection of "false positives" harvested from StreetView -- patterns which the face-recognition algorithm tagged, incorrectly, as faces.

Most were found in foliage and shrubbery. A gallery of portraits of the "Green Man"!

That was in 2007. Subsequently, I ran across the following work on YouTube: Genetic algorithms: evolving a human face (2009).
posted by 0rison at 10:22 PM on December 3, 2014

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