Monday, April 26, 2021


Verified Landing Site Oil on linen 92 x 112 cm 2021

Verified Landing Site continues my interest in thinking about portraiture in an age of facial recognition technology. My last post ME: Portraiture in the Age of Facial Recognition details some of my thoughts - plus - there is a self-portrait - or is it?

In Verified Landing Site I have combined facial recognition-type computer graphics with  airport landing-type graphics. In this case the Loyal Wingman* drone, positioned in the middle of the blue 'iris', gives a clue to what kind of craft is landing. However, the idea of 'landing' is also a metaphor for landing on our subconscious.



*Previous Wingman post and painting. 

Wednesday, April 07, 2021


ME: 01001101 01000101 Oil on linen 92 x 112 cm 2021

ME is a self-portrait. It is a painted self-portrait. It visually parodies facial recognition computer graphics.*

For me, my defining features are my very blue eyes, and my long hair which I wear in a loose, often messy, bun. Despite these defining features appearing in the portrait, further confirmation that ME is me is given with a verification tick generated by facial recognition technology. This is corroborated by the binary code 'instructing' the word ME. I ask, are we heading for a future history where identity is verified only by AI and coding? I
f identity verification is ubiquitously provided by technology, will human beings stop looking - and - seeing? Maybe - think about the way contemporary motor vehicles have smaller windows, especially at the rear, than years ago. We don't need to look - or see - when sensors are embedded! This is what I have been told by many car salespeople. 

In a world of digital imaging, facial recognition and biometric scanning, this painted self-portrait is possibly not verifiably me, simply because it is a painting and not a computer graphic, generated by facial recognition technology. Which has more authority, a painted self-portrait or a computer generated image? In the age of fakeness, I think the painted self-portrait certainly has authority! As a painting, my self portrait is untethered from reliance on algorithms, signals and an energy source [battery, electrical]. It exists as an independent unit, unconnected and not networked. As a painting, I think it is defiant in the face of such technology!

Are we in danger of being defined and verified by surveillance photography and digital scanning? Given questions around using AI to detect emotions, I think this is a key question, among many. Check out this short article about this topic, by Kate Crawford, in Nature 

As I painted ME I wondered what might happen to portraiture in the age of facial recognition. Will painting survive as a human activity? Will paintings by human beings be influenced by pervasive
 technologically synchronised and homogenised aesthetics? What might happen to artists who don't fall into the influence of aesthetic homogenisation?

My gambit, with ME, is visual parody.

And, for regular readers, there is a drone! The airborne drone gives a clue that facial recognition is being used to monitor my behaviour, identify my person, document my whereabouts. But, there is another way to look at this! As a painting, in reality, you and I have the drone under surveillance, its signaling exposed, and its connection to insidious surveillance revealed. That this information cannot be tracked, hacked, modified or datafied - because it is a painting -  may be delightful! 

I think this self-portrait says a lot, and more, about ME!  

* Is It Me? is another self-portrait you might like to see and read about.