GREENING FACE: How Facial Expression is Made Sensible, from Pre-Christian Architectural Spaces to Post-Digital Smart Environments

Devon Schiller


After the many algorithmic, computational and digital turns over the last five decades, the ways in which we understand and experience the face as something in and of the world appear to be fundamentally shifting. Indeed, today more and more corporations, institutions and even governments are using automated facial recognition systems within smart environments for abstracting data capital from facial behavior. Through a post-digital perspective,the author explores a history of ideas about the face and its environment across the artistic, scientific and technologic imaginaries, both constants from the past and changes of the present. This intellectual historiography compares three sources: English folklorist Julia Somerset’s 1939 article “The ‘Green Man’ in Church Architecture,”German neurologist Joachim Bodamer’s 1947 case history “The Face Blind,”and Japanese computer scientist Takeo Kanade’s 1973 dissertation “Computer Recognition of Human Faces,” as well as their rhizomatic interrelations. By tracing the role of the environment in the study of the face, the author maps a genealogical landscape of ideas that roams across human and mediated vision, inner and outer ways of seeing, visible and nonvisible imaging, and the presence and absence of color. And, to possibly reconcile the very real ambiguity of the human face with the digital binarism of our increasingly computational planet, the author proposes a “greening of the face”whereby the face and its environment are conceptually modelled as being concretized within a complementary, reciprocal process of becoming.

Słowa kluczowe: Biometrics, Color, Face Perception, Facial Recognition, Green Man, Physiognomy, Science of Facial Expression, Smart Environment

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