Daniel Zea
The Love Letters? (2018)
two performers, two webcams, two computers running face tracking algorithms, video and electronics

Composition, coreography and programming © Daniel ZEA (2018)

Performers, Anne Gillot, Mauricio Carrasco and Daniel Zea (Ensemble Vortex)
Aproximate duration: 25 minutes
Premiered on 25th novembre 2018 at Kubus ZKM (Zentrum for Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe) GigaHertz Preis’ Festival.

On today’s society, in which communication and images have became so important, face tracking and face recognition algorithms are everywhere. Web browsers, surveillance systems in the streets, social networks, even our own smartphones are tracking and tagging our faces.

Our face, meant to be the most expressive part of ones own personality has became now subject of marketing, statistics, and police control. In addition, the saturation of faces in social network have transformed them in masks and narcissist fictions.

But our face remains our face. It is expressive by nature, and this feature has been used by arts ever since. Painting and cinema have deeply explored the power of faces to express emotions.
This duality between expressive face / dehumanized face is being staged in this piece The Love Letters?. How transcendental can be the communication of two faces interfaced by a network of machines? What are the love letters that might result from computer algorithms?

Two persons face to face in front of their computers. Each movement and facial gesture is tracked, recognized and converted into control signals. Blinking eyes, a moving gaze or a grimace generate music and text. The emotions evoked by faces in contrast with whatever the algorithms might produce. What can we possibly understand of this multilayered dialogue?

This piece stages the fragility of our contemporary society on behalf of technology, a recurrent idea of my late hybrid performance pieces such as The Fuck Facebook Face Orchestra and Kinecticut.

(photos below © Raphaëlle Mueller _ 2019)