The art of faces staring at computer screens

July 12, 2012 | By | Reply More

“How do our computers see us?”

“Maybe  if we could see what our computer sees, we would stare differently.”

Here’s a fascinating article by Kyle McDonald at Wired: “When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: ‘People Staring at Computers.'”  McDonald secretly loaded up his custom-made app onto numerous computers displayed at a Manhattan Apple store in order to create an art project.  He was fascinated with the expressionless faces displayed while people use computers.  McDonald is a programmer, and using his automated app, he gathered faces of Apple customers (check out the video he created based on people staring at their computers).

Eventually, Apple figured out what McDonald had done.  Next came the knock on McDonald’s door by the U.S. Electronic Crimes Task Force, and a lot of inconvenience.  What started out as an art project expanded to include a discussion of privacy and snooping, including corporate and government snooping.

What did people think of his project?   Here are a few of the hundreds of comments he received:

Interesting how he as able to capture a truly expressionless face. It made me think about how too much computer time may make us retract from social interactions. Weird .

Facial expressions are partially reflexive but partially social. It’s not a surprise that expressions get bland when there is no one around to non-verbally communicate with.

We ARE social animals and we can only guess at the long term effect of computers on our species.

I like the idea of “how does a computer sees you” any Asimov reader would daydream after such sentence.

McDonald has written a long article, but it’s extremely thoroughly engaging throughout.

Also consider McDonald’s work on Blind Self-Portraits. And here’s a somewhat startling piece called “Face Substitution.”   Here is McDonald’s website.


Category: Art, computers, Entertainment, photography

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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