Week 5 Reading Response: Computer Vision

I am not a programmer or a videographer, so I’ll mostly speak about the first topic, Computer Vision in Interactive Art.

I was really impressed by Krueger’s Videoplace. It seemed to be a highly interactive Computer Vision piece. I found it especially interesting that this project is actually quite old, older even than the computer mouse. This surprised me as I thought that computer vision, at least the kind that could track poses accurately, was relatively new. It’s pretty amazing that the piece was working even in 2006.

Also, the part about computer vision and interactive art based on it being a response to increasing surveillance really stood out to me. Art has often been a response to various kinds of troubles or challenges faced by society, and is often a means of coping with societal trauma. Therefore, it is no surprise that the increased surveillance following 9/11 and the War on Terror, especially machine-based surveillance, triggered an outpouring of interactive artpieces based on computer vision. Lozano-Hemmer’s Standards and Double Standards is probably the best example of this, as to me, it represents that surveillance makes people more distant from each other (represented by the “absent crowd”) while enforcing a sense of oppression and authority (represented by the belts).

Rokeby’s Sorting Daemon was another particularly interesting project, especially after I visited his website to understand how the composites were made. On the left side of the composite are the faces, sorted from dark skin to fair, left to right. The right side meanwhile captures details of their clothes, sorted into mosaics by similar color. I found it to be a rather fitting representation of the profiling of people, which is often racial and unfairly targets racial minorities and immigrants who appear more similar to the stereotypical “terrorist” or “criminal”. It is also a visual representation of the dehumanization of people into datapoints that are monitored by the state.

Overall, this was a very interesting reading about the history of Computer Vision-based art. While I regret not being able to understand the technical aspects better, I would say this was quite a well-written article, which simplified many complex concepts of this old, yet cutting-edge, field.

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