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  • Temperamental Art

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2006
Sally B. Patterson

Imagine the enigmatic smile of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa distorted into a threatening grimace or the spine-tingling visage in Edvard Munch’s The Scream evolving into a happy face. This could be the next digital art trend. Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK, including two interns visiting from Boston University, have reported the development of “empathic painting” — electronic artwork that automatically undergoes changes to match the moods of the viewer.

Software measures emotional states via key facial features — mouth curl, brow angle, openness of eyes, etc. — and, in real time, changes the rendering of color, darkness and brushstroke to suit the perceived level of anger, sadness, pleasure or arousal that it detects.

The work provides not only methodology for using high-level control parameters to affect the output of artistic rendering algorithms, but also a novel interactive experience.

And it is far more sophisticated than the mood ring.

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