Obscured Identity

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Michael Jackson

this is what happens when you wear michael jackson's face.

Uh, the world just got creepier with this fascinating tech/art mashup. These videos are proofs of concept for a real-time facial tracking and masking software. The basic idea is that using this software hooked up to your typical webcam/laptop setup, you can match a still image of a face onto your own. The facetracker tracks your facial movement and expression, rigs it with a mesh (explained last week), then masks your identity with a still image, stretching it to match, guaranteeing you a degree of privacy in video situations, which… I don’t know. I’m actually surprised the NSA hasn’t lynched these guys for even thinking about this. I personally think it’s neat, but it’s not hard to see how this could turn into a core tool for anyone with ill intent.

In the first video, Arturo’s color blending is pretty artificial, so it’s easy to see you’re dealing with a fake—but it’s still spooky. In Kevin’s, it’s harder to see the fakery in some of the faces, but creepier—the color blending is more naturalistic, so you’re kinda plopped smacko into the uncanny valley. And finally, Jason, the original author of the faceTracker pretty much points out potentially dangerous uses of the tracker by replacing his face with a Guy Fawkes mask.

Spooky stuff—but it has a pile of use as a visual medium, and is tailor-made to be altered by artists, as it’s made in openFrameworks, the code toolbox for artists that i freaked out over at SxSW a few years ago. Virtual avatars for a cool take on Japanese puppetry, anyone?