|Creators||Wright, A. and Linney, A.|
Gallery-based interactive computer installation, developed in collaboration with computer scientist, Professor Alf Linney (UCL), resulting in a facial recognition system that could mirror and respond an audience member. Project questions the Lacanian concept of an 'alter ego'. Alter Ego was a five-year research project that questioned the concept of an ‘alter ego’. It used a computer installation which
produced a ‘mirror image’ representation of an audience member, but which then apparently took on ‘a life of its own’. The work
played on the Lacanian idea that the ‘ideal-other’ in the mirror is, and is not, the self. Alter Ego also explored the predictability of
the machine as a tool and measuring device.
Research involved developing new ways of recognising and categorising the shape of the face, tracking the features and
classifying their movements into facial expressions, then synthesising both facial appearance and expression on a 3D model. A
new scientific method for analysing facial expression was developed as a result of this project. To their knowledge, Wright and
Linney’s method remains the most robust and successful means of automatically classifying facial expression in real-time. Alter
Ego was presented in a range of contexts including art galleries, science museums, art and technology, and computer games
The artistic aims of the project led to new innovations in science and technology and to new software that would be robust in a
public situation. The research process included developing methods for finding and tracking points on the face based on
analysis of video footage. Wright conducted extensive primary research into both spontaneous and conscious generation of
facial expressions and built up a large video database of expressions.
In the research process Wright visited other leading centres working on similar problems, including MIT, Boston and Carnegie
Melon University. Research was carried out during a Fellowship in the Computer Science department at Cambridge University.
The project received ACE funding and Wellcome Trust 'Impact Award'.
|Keywords||Interactive installation, mirror, facial expression recognition, avatar|
|Web address (URL)||http://www.alexawright.com/aeindex.html|