The past few weeks have allowed me to think deeply about what I want to get out of my thesis project and what form this project will take. I wrote last week of the idea of the “manufactured self” – a self that has been constructed socially by external sources of power.
I stumbled on Alexandru Dragulescu’s thesis paper Data Portraits: Aesthetics and Algorithms, which outlines his creative practice for data portraiture. He describes “the concept of data portraits as a means for evoking our data bodies” and showcases his “data portraiture techniques that are re-purposed in the context of one’s social network.”
With my project, I will attempt to create a portrait of each participant based only on his or her Facebook data. I want to use facial recognition models (C++ and Python), 3D modeling (Three.js, Blender), the Facebook Graph API, and IBM Watson’s Natural Language Processing and Personality Insights APIs.
After much experimentation, I have an overall idea of what the user flow will look like. There will be an online web application + a physical component. Here’s the flow:
(1) User logs into web application (with Facebook Oauth)
(2) Real-time analysis of personality + generate 3D facial model
(3) The 3D object is manipulated/distorted based on the personality insights (?)
(4) At the show, users will be able to take home a physical artifact of their data portrait (thermal print of the 3D model? An .obj? A list of personality insights?)
This week, I used C++ and Python to get this library up and running, which allows you to create a 3D model of a face from a 2D image. I spent a significant amount of time trying to install the library, generate the landmark points, and run the analysis on my own images. Here’s what that process looked like:
I also got access to a few of IBM Watson’s APIs via the Python SDK. Specifically, I’m looking at the Personality Insights API, which analyses a body of text (your Facebook likes, your Facebook posts, etc). I ran the analysis on my own Facebook data, and added the information to the website I built from the JSON file that was generated.
You can see an example of what that analysis looked like on my own Facebook data:
I also decided to test my 2D to 3D model on an earlier image I had created of my composite face based on every Facebook photo I’ve been tagged in.