Mixing contemporary local faces with archive portraits of the people in a cranky automated photographic studio.
Selfies are the latest version of our desire to record our own image, to see ourselves in new ways. Rogues Gallery plays on this impulse in an engaging and at times surprising installation.
The piece celebrates our interest in reading human faces; perhaps for social animals like humans it is an essential skill to have this interest, and may even be part of our genetic makeup.
This shop window installation maps contemporary face-captured images of the audience into a range of archive picture portraits. These can be of a Victorian family, dressed in their best and determined to record of their high-minded interests for posterity; to a frivolous 1920's fashion shoot; to an Edwardian confidence tricksters mug-shot, to a 1945 VE-day celebration; to a 1970's picket line.
The different elements are combined in real time in a way that is at once playful and surprising, by bringing together:
- A Face: from any participant, taken live using face recognition software,
- A Body: mapped into a range of portraits from the archives,
- A Caption: which adds an extra meaning to the resulting picture.
The newly created images appear within seconds of being taken, and display in ever changing permutations. They are presented in richly gilted picture frames in a shop window that is transformed into a pop-up art-shop project.
Both engaging and playful, the piece combines old with new in a way that is accessible to anyone. By mapping faces into new bodies and situations it creates an never-repeating series of entertaining and sometimes humorous new images. To see yourself or your partner or friend in another persons body can be quite comic, but in some way also speaks of the transience of all mortal life.
The piece can stand alone or work well alongside other work in a shop or other similar space. We do need to control the background for the camera to avoid potential back-lighting issues or any false face-recognition that can arise. With this proviso, the camera can be set to work automatically and the piece work un-manned from inside a shop looking out. However, it can work even better with an artist able to interact with passers-by, helping them engage with the piece. It it particularly good at inducing people to enter a new space or festival hub.
Photography has been the medium of portraiture since its invention and even today, when there is a camera in nearly every pocket, Chester has at least 10 independent portrait photographers in operation. Photographic artists have been snapping away for over 100 years, and many of their early pictures survive.
So why all this interest in portrait photography? Actually reading faces is essential for social animals like humans; it is thought we can each recognise up to 10,000 different faces. Perhaps its part of our genetic makeup to have an interest in faces.
- Fully automated camera - adjusts brightness and contrast
- Face tracking algorithms
- Passers-by add their face to the piece through the shop window
- Feedback to the user via a camera-mounted screen
- Swiftly passes images through to the display system
- Runs on timers - can start-up and close down at specified times
- Operate over exhibition duration completely unattended
- Uninterrupted mains power supply
- A secure shop (or other) window
- Needs shade to prevent excessive back light
- Spencer Roberts
- Nick Mitchell
- Chris Squire
- Charlott Diefenthal
An effective interactive installation which passers-by enjoyed engaging with and assisted in drawing audiences into the Hub venue.
A friendly professional company who were easy to work with.
Amy Hollis, Production Assistant, Chester Performs
Rogues Gallery, Chester