Wednesday, April 07, 2021

ME: PORTRAITURE IN THE AGE OF FACIAL RECOGNITION


ME 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.*

IDENTITY & VERIFICATION
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 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? Will human beings stop looking - and - seeing, if identity verification is ubiquitously provided by technology? 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 take over!

In a world of digital imaging, facial recognition and biometric scanning, this painted self-portrait is possibly not me, simply because it is a painting and not a computer graphic generated by AI or machine learning facial recognition technology. As a painting it is untethered from reliance on algorithms, signals and an energy source. 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 

PORTRAITURE
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 become more realistic as technology synchronises aesthetics or will paintings become more abstracted, as a form of resistance? My gambit, is visual parody.

DRONE
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 scurrilous...how delightful! 

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

Clearly, there is more to say....


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

** Waiting for the Beeps is a post, with other links to further posts, about some of my thoughts regarding looking, seeing and cars.

Cheers,

Kathryn

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