Speed Show: FACE THE FACE
FACE THE FACE
A Speed Show on the Post-Digital Self
Anika Meier & Aram Bartholl
5.7.2019, 7:00 – 10:00pm
Internet Cafe – Midnightshop
Schönhauser Allee 188, Ecke Torstr., 10119 Berlin
Lisette Appeldorn, Jeremy Bailey, Nadja Buttendorf, Petra Cortright, Constant Dullaart, Tom Galle, Lauren Huret, Johanna Jaskowska, Andy Kassier, Hanneke Klaver, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Echo Can Luo, Ines Marzat, Jillian Mayer, Andy Picci, Selam X
Social media algorithms have a preference for faces. People prefer friends to strangers and are more comfortable with the familiar in general. This preference applies to their own faces, too. Studies have shown that people like their mirror-reflected face most because that is how they are used to seeing themselves. “The selfie,” writes Nathan Jurgenson, “lets us share that mirror-view, what we see when contemplating our self, considering what we are.” Science is not yet convinced of what the critics are absolutely sure of: people who take selfies are narcissistic exhibitionists.
These days, when a person takes a photo to their plastic surgeon, it is of their own face. Smoothed and beautified by Snapchat and Instagram filters, it is the new ideal. Filters make people feel attractive. Masks and filters function as a barrier between the individual and the world, and people have always felt the need to change themselves by wearing makeup, getting plastic surgery, donning masks ,or using filters that simultaneously hide and reveal. Mask culture, thousands of years old, is currently undergoing a digital renaissance. Software-driven face-recognition apps on smartphones enable a new, shared experience of this ancient tradition. “The self one tries to express tends to be new, exciting, confessional, sexy, etc., because it plays as an advertisement. Identity is a series of ads for a product that doesn’t exist,” writes Rob Horning on digital identities.
In the early 1980s Lynn Hershman Leeson addressed the ways media changes the view of the self and promotes stereotypical norms in her series “Phantom Limbs.” Jeremy Bailey has been playing with floating, 3D objects in front of the camera since the early 2000s. The elaborate hardware and tracking programs he began with have now completely disappeared into the smartphone. Petra Cortright started using commercially-available webcam software with basic effects and folklore-inspired filters to create her series of YouTube portraits in 2009.
Now, a new generation of net artists is reflecting on the presentation of faces in the digital age. @AndyKassier, for example, explains in his video how to make the perfect selfie, while @jillianmayer gives tips on how to hide from surveillance cameras with makeup in her tutorial. @andypicci uses filters to criticise the desire for image cultivation in the era of social media and @johwska addresses the sort of beauty ideals promoted by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner every day. The @selamxstudio collective, in turn, shows what happens when a beauty AI does Kylie Jenner’s make-up.
It has been a while since the last Speed Show but the concept is live and kicking!! The audience was very interested and enthusiastic about the show. In shortage of computers we decided to run this show with two pieces per computer in a split screen version which also reflects our smart phone era today. Thanks to all the artists participating in the show, thanks to everyone showing up last friday! Thanks to Kenan from Midnightshop-Internet cafe for having us!
Petra Cortright , sssss//////^^^^^^^, 2011, Video
In 2009 Petra Cortright started using commercially-available webcam software with tracking effects and sometimes folklore-inspired filters to create her series of YouTube portraits. In the tradition of the ready-made Cortright works with predefined effects and is reflecting the Youtube “Broadcast yourself” cam culture of a whole generation. The video series was known to be priced on the basis of the view count.
Lynn Hershman Leeson , Phantom Limb, Reach, 1986, Photo series
In the early 1980s Lynn Hershman Leeson addressed the ways media changes the view of the self and promotes stereotypical norms in her series Phantom Limbs. Leeson described the series as the “absorption of female identity into media and technologies” but the works are equally concerned with the power of media visualizations and how they create benchmarks and stereotypes that affect the perception of our bodies, our psychology and sense of self.
Jeremy Bailey, The Future of Television, 2012, Video
Jeremy Bailey has been playing with camera tracking and floating 3D objects in front of the camera since the early 2000s. Introducing himself as the famous media artist Jeremy Bailey became an integral part and trade mark of his camera performance. Back in the days this 3D playground required an elaborate hardware and software setup.
Andy Picci, Self-Centered, 2019, Instagram AR filter
Andy Picci is a digital creative and artist based in Paris. Andy is a living work of art created by Andrea Picci. He is the creator of the Instagram AR Filters Behind the Mask, Diving Content, and Self-Centred. Picci uses Instagram not only as a gallery to showcase his art, but as a full artistic medium. His filter Self-Centered reflects the quest for identity in the digital age.
Ines Marzat, Tears in the Wind, 2018, Instagram AR filter
The face is the first thing people see of each other in the social media, hence the obsessive preoccupation with their own face. Ines Marzat turns her 3D makeup into camera beauty filters so everyone can try them on using Snapchat or Instagram. “Have you ever cried when feeling happy?” That’s what Marzat asked her followers when she posted Tears in the Wind on her Instagram. Collaboration with @nicoleruggiero.
Hanneke Klaver, #freetheexpression series, 2018, Instagram
Labeled with the hashtag #freetheexpression Klaver created a series of analog face filters which ironically comment on the recent face filter trend on Instagram. With accessible materials like cardboard, wire and wooden sticks she creates intricate kinetic sculptures which are set into motion by different face movements.
Johanna Jaskowka, Beauty3000, 2018, Instagram AR filter
Johanna Jaskowska is a digital creative and artist based in Berlin. She is the creator of “the number one futuristic filter taking over Instagram, Beauty3000“ (Forbes). She is interested in merging the body with technologies in a highly fashionable aesthetic while questioning beauty in a digital context. “Johanna Jaskowska has managed to offer our self-loving generation (which seemed to be stuck somewhere between cat, rabbit, and dog ear filters) a layer of unconventionality.“ (i-D)
Tom Galle, Neoliberal warriors, 2018, Photo series
Neoliberal Warriors is a research project around contemporary branding and warrior face painting rituals. Collaboration with @janinazais, @moises.404, and @ilonadesmet
Constant Dullaart, DullDream v.2, 2018, Website
Vistitors of dulldream.xyz are invited to upload a photo which then is processed by a specially trained neural network to ‘dullyfy’ the picture. While the background of the image mostly stays intact faces and body parts in the foreground get largely distorted, as if the neural network hates selfies. DullDream is part of a series of art works Dullaart promotes in a company like branding to reflect the corporate process’ artist undergo nowadays.
Nadja Buttendorf, Robotron KC87, 2019, Snapchat filter
For her ongoing YouTube web series Robotron Nadja Buttendorf created a Snapchat filter that is featured by the main character of the series at the beginning of the second season. Although the story of the series takes place in the Robotron GDR computer factory of the 70s Buttendorf incorporates a lot of current memes and elements from platforms like Tiktok or Snapchat.
Jillian Mayer, How To Hide From Cameras, 2013, Video
Mayer presents a makeup tutorial that teaches viewers how to hide from cameras and facial recognizing algorithms. “We all know that cameras are watching our every step,” warns Mayer. The implementation of this makeup tutorial in your everyday life will be key to existing track free.
Andy Kassier, You were born to stand out – An Intimate ASMR Selfie Tutorial with Andy Kassier, 2019, Video
“Success is just a smile away,” says Andy Kassier. His hair and smile are on point, his shoes and the Lamborghini shine. The German conceptual artist embodies in social media the type of the successful self-made man. His new video is a guide to taking the perfect selfie. In a few, simple steps, viewers can learn how to achieve media recognition thanks to an acoustically stimulating demonstration.
Lauren Huret, Face Swap (present), 2016, Video
In her works, Lauren Huret takes on such issues as the impact of artificial intelligence. Her video loop Face Swap presents the artist sitting in a field holding her phone in one hand, slowly moving the other hand in impatiently on her knee and body. In the distance the famous NSA data center serves as a backdrop of the other wise still scene.
Lisette Appeldorn, Untitled, Photo series
Lisette Appeldorn has an obsession with masks made from a lot of different materials. She is always looking for that perfect combination of the right colors and materials, draped over the human body. Playing with these materials without having any clear plan on beforehand, she creates a series of different characters that she discovers while shooting. By hiding the face, Appeldorn has control over the emotions in the work, and although there is no distraction of a facial expression, we can still recognise ourselves in the presented shapes. She gets her inspiration from walking past extraordinary households or shops, or searching for that one right fabric.
Selam X, Beauty_GAN, 2019, Photo series / AI Gan network
“We are surrounded by technology that decides our fate in every instance of our lives. These technologies are often invisible, they are these mysterious spells that work in the background… but you can make them visible, and as artists we have a duty to make these things visible; in the case of AI, to show people that this is nothing to be scared of. That it can produce beauty, something unseen, a new aesthetic.” – Lukas Rudig, Beauty_GAN
Echo Can Luo, Nicely Nicely all the time!, 2018, Website
With this research website Luo explains different ways of 3D modeling, 3D photogrammetry and face tracking, which she has applied in her thesis project Nicely Nicely all the time!. With a closer look she discuss’ the biases and discrepancies of the use of algorithms in data models. In the processes of utilizing and testing the programs Luo discusses the impact of discrimination in software and the real world.