With all my experimenting with Processing i’ve noticed that my work has steered towards interpretation of the live video feed through face tracking and such rather than just reactions to the video feed. This has lead me to aim my project towards the idea of doing something with the face (or other body part) tracking in the OpenCV library.
From here I had to think about which media concepts this could be applied to and my first instinct was the idea of surveillance culture. In 2013, the Telegraph reported that the British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) estimated that there are up to 5.9 million CCTV cameras in the UK, with 750,000 in sensitive locations such as schools and hospitals. This is approximately 1 camera for every 11 people. Previous estimates of the number of cameras ranged from 1.5 -4 million across the UK. The amount of cameras has been criticised by Nick Pickles, the then director of the privacy campaign, Big Brother Watch, saying that:
“This report is another stark reminder of how out of control our surveillance culture has become … This report should be a wake up call that in modern Britain there are people in positions of responsibility who seem to think ‘1984’ was an instruction manual.”
Many argue that the sheer amount of surveillance is comparable to the George Orwell novel, 1984, which is set in a dystopian future in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation. In many instances we aren’t even aware that we’re being watched, and this is the idea that I wanted to exemplify in my project.
The surveillance is capable of taking pictures and video of people without them being aware of it happening. It has the ability to follow and recognise faces and even attach them to a name and other personal information stored online. One example of this is Facebook’s experimental facial recognition software, DeepFace, which can recognise faces almost as well as the human brain can no matter the difference in lighting or angle. DeepFace has the ability to look at two photos and can say with 97.25% accuracy whether or not they contain the same face, compared to humans 97.53% accuracy. You’re probably already aware that Facebook has another, more basic facial recognition algorithm that prompts you with tags when you upload pictures. I already find this quite unnerving how Facebook can recognise who you are by your face and match it to all the personal information you post about yourself.
Obviously my Processing project using OpenCV doesn’t have this level of complexity, it is just capable of detecting faces rather than recognising them. This is something I want to build upon in my project, seeing just what I can do by detecting the faces of people as they walk past/ interact. The idea of surveillance is my first building block for development, as I go on and experiment more with Processing, and do more research I will hopefully narrow this down and head along a more specific and interesting direction with the project.