keywords on April 26, 2015: Blackhawks, Freddie Gray, Cecily Strong, NASCAR, Spurs, Wladimir Klitschko, Hayden Panettiere, UFC 186. Images courtesy the artist, via
What do the Chicago Blackhawks, Freddie Gray, Cecily Strong, NASCAR, the San Antonio Spurs, Wladimir Klitschko, Hayden Panettiere, and UFC 186 all have in common? If you guessed "yesterday's top search keywords," you should probably take a break from the internet, because you're as sharp as Recognised Faces, an application by Kristoffer Ørum that generates a new face from every day's highest-ranked Google search terms.
In the past, facial recognition has been used to create everything from images of what the average face in a movie looks like to Tony Oursler's haunting video faces. Now, the technology eschews its mass surveillance usage in favor of these creepy composites—not to mention that each daily portrait then becomes Ørum's personal avatar on his personal sites, social networks, and "anywhere else his image might be indexed and scanned for facial features by intelligence agencies, commercial agents or other interested parties," the artist tells The Creators Project.
"By constructing new faces from parts of the most looked upon images on the internet Recognised Faces creates a snapshot of the flow of data collection and facial recognition that happens daily on the internet," Ørum explains, "thus utilising facial recognition to generate phantomfaces that reflect how computers perceive us as vaguely recognisable patterns in an ocean of data." The idea is to then feed these images back into the 'net in order to destabilize what the NSA or Google thinks Ørum might look like.
While the resulting images are decidedly uncanny valley inducing (read: Facial Recognition Sees You as a Pattern, Not a Person), it's worth noting that they're basically mixtapes of modern beauty ideals—only, cut'n'pasted in a way that confronts audiences with what Ørum calls "the computer's dispassionate gaze." Stare long enough into Recognised Faces, it seems, and Recognised Faces also stare into you.
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