3D Facial Weaponization

Facial recognition technology uses cameras and software to associate live images of people in public space with images on a watch list. The faces in this list can come from a variety of sources and may not include only those of suspected criminals. As debates and demonstrations against the controversial use of facial recognition technologies are proliferating around the world, police and other government forces are increasingly using facial analysis technology to monitor citizen pacific protests and riots. Recent protests in Hong Kong have exposed this surveillance infrastructure based on this technology put in place by governments, highlighting their potential misuse scenario applied as part of mass citizen surveillance.

In parallel, a facial recognition research funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) provides a method capable of producing detailed 3D reconstructions of the face from photos taken in conditions of extreme vision. This method then consists of estimating the plausible details of the face in places where it is hidden in order to reconstruct it in its entirety. It is an advance that in the near future could defeat attempts to keep the anonymity of protesters and activists.

The 3D Facial Weaponization seminar consists of creating an experimental space to investigate the tense relationship between demonstrators and facial recognition. It also provides an opportunity to review contemporary research and test new algorithms in the field of facial reconstruction, with the objective of maintaining a dialogue on the freedom to protest and the use of AI in mass surveillance.

Seminar | October 2019
Geneva Contemporary Art Center, Switzerland
Photographs © Raphaëlle Mueller