Electronic art changes to suit mood of viewer

Saturday, August 05, 2006
Electronic art changes to suit mood of viewer | Tech&Sci | Technology | Reuters.com: "British and American computer scientists have developed artwork that changes according to how the viewer feels. Special software picks up facial cues and adapts the color and brush strokes of the digital image.

'The programme analyses the image of eight facial expressions, such as the position and shape of the mouth, the openness of the eyes, and the angle of the brows, to work out the emotional state of the viewer,' said Dr John Collomosse of the University of Bath in southwest England."

So, here's the art question for today: as an artist, how would you use this?

As a writer, how would your fiction change depending on the readers mood? How about non-fiction?

As a painter or sculptor: would you make your paintings or scultures change to make someone in a dark mood feel better? or better reflect their mood?

What about someone who is already in a good mood?

Update: This seems to be in the air today...

Ann Althouse@Instapundit
: "So the modern art keeps pissing people off, and they've hired people to pass as ordinary museum-goers and try to manage the mood. I'm slightly offended by this ruse, but also charmed that there is a job like this, which I think would be a really nice day job for a struggling artist or actor. I would have loved to do this when I was young and fancied myself an artist. I'd even like to do it now. I could see myself, retired from professorhood, roaming around the museum looking for the surly folk and saying something to guide them back onto the track of art-love. I'd be happy with a collection of jobs like this. I would, for a price, go sit in a movie theater crowd and cue the flow of laughter on the subtler jokes. I would, for a price, eat in a restaurant and make slightly audible favorable comments about the menu and, with a co-worker, contribute a pleasant sound of conversation and even make up gossip about fictional characters to give the other diners something to eavesdrop on. Or maybe I should just start a business, designing jobs like this and selling businesses on the notion that they need fake patrons to improve the attitude of the real patrons. And all you artists and actors in need of an amusing day job can come to me. I'll just take 10%."


CF said...

Pheh--When I'm feeling down, it would hardly help my mood to have my artwork match and when I'm feeling angry why would I want everything around me sparking, too.
Fergettaboutit. Or else.

truepeers said...

Art or entertainment?

Art is revelatory, teaching us something new and memorable about the human scene (and not just about ourselves), and its effect is hence unpredictable, and not reducible to a single mood or idea...

Entertainment (following the etymology - entretenir - to hold) is what keeps us going along, as in John Lennon's "whatever gets you through the night".

I have no idea how I'd use such tech, but would first ask if it can be used for both art and entertainment.

Seneca the Younger said...

What could be more revelatory than something that understands and responds to your emotional state?

truepeers said...

it might be revelatory; i can't quite imagine how this tech could be used. But to be revelatory I guess it couldn't just be about my emotions, in the sense of, say, a mother always being on your side, always pampering, never questioning: "oh you're sad... have a sweet; oh you're angry... have a candy". My mom is great and she has taught me a lot but when she is mothering in a highly sympathetic way she is not much of a teacher. She is rather postponing hard lessons for a while.

I guess I;m thinking that it is not just a question of reading one's moods but knowing how to relate them to some larger story that is less about serving or flattering us as challenging the user. But how could a machine do this? Or in other words, how could an artist incorporate the technology and still have his voice? If you have a programmatic response to the machine's reading of the user's moods, how do you challenge the user to see the world in a new way? Don't artists have to challenge our set moods but without continually serving or responding to them? Don't we have to enter their dialogue more than they have to enter ours?

Syl said...


Like climate, art is local.

The artist's voice, if she so chooses to accept the challenge, is found in what she chooses to present depending on the mood of the viewer.

And those choices will be as varied as the artists are.

It's not as if the result of this technology will define all future art. But it is simply an example of artists attempting to involve the viewer in the art itself.

gumshoe1 said...

cf -

maybe you'd want a
split-screen or play-by-play
set of views...Goofus and Galant,
so to speak.


many times the key to losing a lousy mood is just waking up to the fact you're in it.

other times,not.

personally i think we need a faculty other than an
externalized machine
to cope with such things.

maybe self-awareness.
maybe i'm a luddite.

some people like Ecstasy.
some like Prozac.

Seneca the Younger said...

CF, as a confirmed Prozac user, I can tell you that it's not what people normally think: it's not a mood-elevator. More than anything else, it seems to me what it does is make it easier to break out of obsessive trains of thought, and in general makes it easier to think clearly. (I compare it to going through life with a black chiffon bag over my head, and then one day taking it off.)

I don't think you're a luddite, though --- it has los of implications, not all of them pleasant.

On the other hand, art is supposed to affect the emotional change in the user.

(In other words, the effect of art is to effect a change in the affect. I need more coffee.)

CF said...

Paris hires young couples to kiss and hug to create a romantic mood..Though now that it's becoming more Moslem they may have to cut it out.

truepeers said...

cf, are you serious? You mean the French don't just do that naturally? My world view is shattered!