Levin’s “Computer Vision for Artists”: Thinking Big with Tech

Apart from the interesting informational aspects of Golan Levin’s “Computer Vision for Artists,” upon reflecting there were two things that really stuck with me:

  1. The first was something that was discussed at the beginning of the reading: Levin explained that the artist of Videoplace, Myron Krueger, believed that the “entire human body ought to have a role in our interactions with computers.” I liked this idea first and foremost because whenever I think of visual interaction with computers I only think of the face/neck and shoulders area/maybe hands — I rarely consider that the whole body should be involved. More importantly, however, it reminded me of the the article “A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design” by Bret Victor. As I recall, he was frustrated that nobody was being more innovate with interaction design, and specifically that nobody was developing (or even really thinking about) creating interactions that involve other human senses/capabilities other than the ability to swipe a screen with a pointer finger. In the same way that Victor resents the lack of more humane physical interactions with technology, I am sure that Krueger would be frustrated that there are very few technologies that use computer vision in a way that incorporates the whole human body. This makes me wonder if programs like Skype, Snapchat, etc., that typically limit interactions to faces, are missing out on a similarly more humane approach to technology.
  2. The second was The Suicide Box technology at the Golden Gate Bridge. Not only is the whole topic extremely sad, but it is quite interesting that the program was able to capture more suicides than was officially reported (which makes me wonder how many suicides have actually occurred there over the past 70 years). More importantly, however, I liked how the technology was controversial, and called attention to an important social issue. What one might think would be somewhat uncontroversial — recording a public place to keep a record of certain incidents (albeit to be used a sort of statement/artpiece) — actually was extremely controversial, and as Levin points out through quoting Jeremijenko, the public is wary of artists (or others) who use real, material “evidence” gathered through surveillance technology.