Machine Seeing Ways of Seeing
Preliminary notes towards Ways of Machine Seeing in Cambridge (26-28 June 2017).
For this we will present a series of experiments using machine vision algorithms to rework short extracts from the four episodes of the BBC documentary series Ways of Seeing. Our algorithmic interlocutors provoke new questions about the ideological role of the technical apparatus and add another (technical) voice to Berger’s own observations on visual culture and politics. After a brief presentation, the experiments will be used to open up discussion and to allow participants to experience the work of the algorithms directly.
- Contact sheet - a facial recognition algorithm run on the first episode.
- Face detection, video. The Viola Jones algorithm applied to the second episode. The script attempts to detect frontal faces with spurious false positives. Longer sequences with continuous exact detection. More about Viola Jones, aka Haar Cascade.
- Cloning into a face
- Other stills produced using Yolo ("you only look once") real-time object detection system that employs a neural network.
- Object detection, video. The same software Yolo applied to the third episode. The algorithm tries to detect the objects. Its errors reveal the limited number of categories it "learned" from its training set, Common Objects in Context, COCO. COCO, Microsoft Yolo's concepts
- Yolo modified by the community of hackers and amateurs.
- Comparative version
- Yolo silent Movie
Experiments are based on the following initial ideas:
- Episode one - draws on ideas from Walter Benjamin's Artwork essay
- 1. perspective 01:02 - 02:03 (what lies behind surfaces) - algorithm to identify background
- 2. reproduction 03:22 - 07:22 (destruction of aura) - recognition of patterns
- 3. scepticism 28:00 - 29:30 (ideology) - identifying edges
- Episode two - discusses the politics of the female nude and the gaze
- 4. women 00:00 - 02:59 (women watch themselves being looked at) - gender analysis?
- 5. nude 03:16 - 08:08 (man as agent of god) - skin algorithm
- 6. the look 11:12 - 12.38 (male gaze) - face recognition algorithm
- Episode three - reflects on the commissioning of artworks and property relations
- 7. value/property/ownership/class 11:55 - 13:41 (we look, we buy) - identification of objects? or Mr & Mrs Andrews as class enemy 19:18 - 20:38 - ditto
- Episode four - on publicity, and how consumption (re)produces a distorted reality, reification
- 8. capitalism 10:24 - 16:29 (you are what you have) - again something like identifying objects or relations between objects
Geoff Cox & Nicolas Malevé
(Aarhus University/Plymouth University & London South Bank University/The Photographers Gallery/Constant)