• Joey Lee
    Concept & Programming

Geography of Hidden Faces

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Geography of Hidden Faces is a project about exploring and questioning what we see versus what we've trained computers to see. The project provides an interface to renderings of the world from above, layering both critique and a window into a kind of "algorithmic imagination." By applying facial recognition algorithms to aerial imagery, the project begins training you to see "algorithmically." Just as the algorithms have learned to identify patterns in their training data, longer engagement with this project begins to cue you in to the potential conditions and environmental factors that produce to a face detection in the landscape. By applying a facial recognition algorithm onto data it is not meant to interpret, we are given an opportunity to explore the quirky artifacts of facial recognition algorithms.

In 2013, Onformative Studio in Germany published their Google Faces project. Their investigation explored the phenomenon of pareidolia—the tendency for humans to see shapes or faces in inanimate or abstract objects and things—in machines. Onformative employed machine learning algorithms designed for face tracking, turning the gaze of the algorithms away from people and onto views of the earth from space.

Geography of Hidden Faces extends and reinterprets Onformative's early work. Here, the application prompts viewers to zoom and pan in such a way that with each interaction, they are left gazing into the map wondering if the AI sees anything more than what is in view.


Hidden Faces Tour

Finding Hidden Faces

Exploring Faces in Context