Marnix de Nijs (NL) Match & Smile

interactive installation, 2008

Match & Smile is designed like a security gate such as those at airports, malls, soccer stadiums or other public spaces. Equipped with video analyzing software the installation detects and analyzes the faces of people passing through the gate and entering the exhibition. The software will analyze two parameters: facial expression and the similarity of the visitors’ faces with those of the famous people stored in the data base. The data base of selected people includes: the nobodies that partake in reality programs, soap stars, glamour models, celebrities featured in sex tapes, depressed writers that possibly committed suicide, philosophers, musicians that died of drugs etc. Based on the results of the similarity analysis the installation will comment on the entering individual with pre-recorded sounds.

The installation combines the element of surveillance with elements of our experience-based society, a society in which people are getting more and more pampered by the authorities. Just as in a biometric surveillance system the installation analyzes faces of people passing in a mathematical and hence objective way. However this installation doesn't look for data about this very person but tries to find the most similar face in a data base of selected people. The system thus acts in a very subjective, or to be more precise, co-incidental way by accusing the visitor of the lookalike's character/behavior.

Face-recognition software is mainly developed for surveillance and security applications (commonly referred to as "biometric systems"). These biometric methods are introduced to improve security, mainly based on cross-matching the face of the traveller with that in his or her passport or in an immigration or forensic facial database. Currently the software is finding its way to other places like city centers and malls in order to enable the identification of criminals, shop-lifters and other troublemakers. Emotion-recognition software is yet not so widely used outside of the academic circuit although marketers show increasing interest in technologies that determine what gives consumers bliss."...Some 300 women in six European countries were filmed as they ate five foods: vanilla ice cream, chocolate, cereal bars, yoghurt and apples. Not surprisingly, ice cream and chocolate produced the happiest expressions across the Old Continent..."

Equipped with similar emotion- recognition software, Match & Smile not only analyzes and detects emotion, but proclaims certain emotions undesirable: only a smile will open the fence for the visitor, and if the software doesn't accept the smile offered, the visitors can grab an available photo of a smiling celebrity to fool the system.

Marnix de Nijs (NL)

Marnix de Nijs is an Rotterdam based installation artist and researcher who has been working with full body participation in immersive audio visual environments since the late nineties. His works include mainly interactively experienced machines that play with the perception and control of image and sound, but also, radical and humorous pieces such as his Bullet Proof Tent & Lingerie, the Physiognomic Scrutinizer and his Autonomous Oil Reserve. Impelled by the idea that technology acts as a driving force behind cultural change and is therefore capable of generating new experiences in which societal habits and communication are rethought, his work thrives on the creative possibilities offered by new technologies, while critically examining their impact on contemporary society and human perception.

De Nijs' works have been widely exhibited at international art institutes, museums and festivals. He received honorable mentions at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2013, 2005 and 2001. In 2005 he collected the prestigious Dutch Witteveen+Bos Art+Technology Award, for his entire oeuvre.