Ed Atkins Explores the Deep Creepiness of Facial-Recognition Technology By Andrew Russeth | Digital #MediaArt(s) Numérique(s) | Scoop.it

On a very warm afternoon in April, the image of a bald young white man’s head floated on a gray screen at the Kitchen, in Chelsea. The man spoke in a tone that shifted worryingly between aggressive and confessional, punctuating his lines with two disembodied hands. “And I could have been your haruspex, sexy,” he said at one point, snarling. “I could have read omens in your extricated liver.” There were pale red marks beneath his eyes, a five-o’clock shadow on his jaw.


The talking man was the creation of the British artist Ed Atkins, who purchased the avatar for five hundred dollars from a Web site called Turbosquid and brought it to life using the software program faceshift, which maps the movements of facial expressions. This is the same type of object-recognition technology that is now used by Microsoft, whose Windows Hello program lets you unlock computers by looking at them, and by apps including Snapchat, which has adopted motion capture to adorn users’ images with flower crowns or dog faces.