Portraits & Poets [041]
#electronic #installation / Duration: 45 min / Year: 2019

Portraits & Poets is the second part of a trilogy of sound works dealing with algorithmic profiling, facial recognition, and migration. It is a multi-channel video installation based on the biometric data algorithm currently trialed at the external EU borders. This algorithm is modelled after the “lie detector” AI facial recognition software that is currently being tested by the European Union border patrol in Latvia, Hungary and Greece. The system is using the micro-expressions of the migrants seeking to enter EU territory to confirm the verity of their intentions and personal background. Even though multiple forensic scholars have publicly raised concerns about the unreliability of such algorithm producing any correct assessments, the software is poised to become an important tool at the external EU borders, particularly in those with high numbers of “illegal” migrants.

In Portraits & Poets, a similar algorithm is recreated using the criteria employed by the EU border control. It is fed video interviews of contemporary writers and thinkers, reflecting on the themes of migration, identity, and the idea of truth. The algorithm measures the verity of the writers by applying the same micro-expression-based rules as the border-patrol algorithm. Various data deviations from the “standard” emotional response generate the sonic output of the piece. The algorithm and the videos are projected as a two-video channel installation which runs autonomously and continuously renders new sonic output. The sonic part material is released as a separate digital publication.

Supported by: Performing Arts Fund NL
Partners: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Notam