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Computer controlled faces

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I went to ARTHUR ELSENAAR‘s presentation on “Fundamentals of the Computer-controlled Human Face as a Medium for Kinetic Art” (this was part of Golsdmith’s Thursday Club seminars).

Elsenaar has been experimenting for years  now with wiring his own face to a computer and letting a software control his expressions.

The result is really weard indeed. What happens is that you see a face clearly expressing itself through movement, but those expressions do not make any “sense” at all. The lack of “sense” is due from the fact that the computer creates new expressions – movements that are physically possible through our muscles but that our brain has not learned to create because they are not part pf our body language (and cultural references).

Moving through a software logic, the face ceases to be the interface of the saul… This is probably what interested me most in Elsenaar’s artistic practice:¬† the distortion of what what is normally our most transparent link to emotions into a choreography of miningless motions.

On the other hand one could interpret his work differently: the computer is not destroying a cultural code but enhancing our body potential. By creating new face movement the computer goes beyond our cultural coherences and pushes us to visualize our potential.

But in his work there is no real interactivity. The body just follows the electrical impulses and cannot add, nor reply, with any movement…

I can imagine an interactive documentary on bodily presence using this type of technology but pushing it further… A group of people playing with balancing their “learned” body with their “potential” body could be quite a powerful experience!

Food for thoughts…

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 5th, 2009


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