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Emerging trajectories in art, science, and technology.

226 pages of conversation, research, opinion, analysis. Step into artists' studios and workshops to discover the faces, personalities, and processes behind important work. Learn more!

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Google Faces – Searching Earth using facial detection

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Created by OnformativeGoogle Faces is a an independent searching agent created in openFrameworks that hovers the world to spot all the faces that are hidden on earth. The applications searches through one satellite image after the other, in order to feed the face detection algorithm with landscape samples. Once the agent has completed the world search, it switches to the next zoom level and starts all over again.

The way we perceive our environment is a complex procedure. By the help of our vision we are able to recognize friends within a huge crowd, approximate the speed of an oncoming car or simply admire a painting. One of human’s most characteristic features is our desire to detect patterns. We use this ability to penetrate into the detailed secrets of nature. However we also tend to use this ability to enrich our imagination. Hence we recognize meaningful shapes in clouds or detect a great bear upon astrological observations.

In order to process the face detection algorithm on top of different satellite images and store the geographical coordinates, the team uses software to communicate between their standalone application and a virtual browser surfing Google Maps. The oF application uses ofxBerkelium, an OpenFrameworks wrapper for Berkelium which offers the possibility to capture browser images within a standalone application and to communicate via Javascript.

Our Facetracker already circumnavigated the world a couple of times and astonished us with quite versatile results. As it continues to travel the world within the upcoming months, it continuously zooms into the earth. This process decreases the step-size for each iteration and therefore increases the amount of images and travel time exponentially. Some of the detected images aren’t usable at all, as we are not able to recognize any face-like patterns within the detected images. Other satellite images, on the other hand, inspired our imagination in a tremendous, yet funny way. However the search goes on, as our diligent robot continuous investigation.

Project Page | Onformative

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