Computers Watching Movies
Computers Watching Movies shows what a computational system sees when it watches the same films that we do. The work illustrates this vision as a series of temporal sketches, where the sketching process is presented in synchronized time with the audio from the original clip. Viewers are provoked to ask how computer vision differs from their own human vision, and what that difference reveals about our culturally-developed ways of looking. Why do we watch what we watch when we watch it? Will a system without our sense of narrative or historical patterns of vision watch the same things?
Computers Watching Movies was computationally produced using software written by the artist. This software uses computer vision algorithms and artificial intelligence routines to give the system some degree of agency, allowing it to decide what it watches and what it does not. Six well-known clips from popular films are used in the work, enabling many viewers to draw upon their own visual memory of a scene when they watch it. The scenes are from the following movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, American Beauty, Inception, Taxi Driver, The Matrix, and Annie Hall.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Computers Watching Movies was first exhibited as a large-scale video installation during the University of Illinois 2013 MFA Thesis Exhibition, Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL, April 11-28, 2013. Most recently, the work was exhibited as part of COLLISION20 at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery in January-February, 2014.
Computers Watching Movies has been written about widely. A few examples:
- Wired: This Is What a Computer Sees When It Watches The Matrix
- El País: También los ordenadores miran los clásicos del cine
- FastCoDesign: Watch Computers Watch Famous Movies
- Wired (UK): This is what a computer sees when it watches The Matrix
- Gizmodo: What computers see when they watch movies
- The New Aesthetic: Computers Watching Movies
- The Creators Project: This Is How A Computer Sees Movies
- FlowingData: What a computer sees while watching movies
- CHUD: What Happens When A Computer Watches THE MATRIX?
- Kill Screen: Watch this talented robot do abstract sketches of your favorite movies
- Prosthetic Knowledge: Computers Watching Movies
- Animal NY: This is your computer watching The Matrix
See my blog post on the subject for a full list of press about this project.
Following are the end frames of each individual clip. Click the image to load a full-resolution version.