Recently, a paper which I was collaborating for, was accepted to Digital Humanities 2013, to be hosted in Lincoln, Nebraska. Our paper is titled “Not Exactly Prima Facie: Understanding the Representation of the Human Through the Analysis of Faces in World Painting.” This research makes use of face recognition techniques in order to identify similarities in faces across the time.
The representations of the human face contain a virtual archive of human expressions and emotions that can help decipher, through a science of the face, various traits of the human condition and its evolution through time and space. In this project we aim to explore this through the use of powerful tools of facial recognition, data mining, graph theory and visualization and cultural history. Our methodology takes advantage of these tools and concepts to answer questions about periods in art history, such as the significance of the Baroque as a culture derived from human expansion, and the cultural meaning of the progressive erasing of the human face from modern painting. Quantitative analysis of huge amounts of data has been shown to provide answers to new and different questions that otherwise couldn’t have been considered. Our study takes some ideas from the concept of Culturomics by creating a set of more than 123,500 paintings from all periods of art history, and applying the same face recognition algorithm used today by Facebook in its photo-tagging system. The result is a set of over 26,000 faces ready to analyze according to a variety of features extracted by the algorithm. We found a mean of approximately 1 face out of every 5 paintings.
But what I am most excited lately, is the submission we also made a week ago. Two target conferences, DATA and WWW, to be hosted at Reykjavik in Iceland, and Río de Janeiro in Brazil. It’s the first time I collaborate in a paper sent to highly technical conferences, so I don’t know what are the chances to be accepted in at least one of them. I’ll just cross my fingers and wait until the notification deadline came.