Mienophone, facing a sounding machine


Mienophone by Zhe Wang and Daniel Heitz is an installation consisting of a hanging transparent glass sculpture equipped with a camera. When you look into the camera, a machine learning algorithm interprets and categorises the emotions shown by facial expressions. It adjusts some parameters of a software synthesiser accordingly to compose the result as an acoustic dialogue. The shape of the sculpture is abstract and somehow organic, and the composition sounds like a synthesis of an old machine and a speculative organism. The artists also provide reprints of faces of old Hollywood actors to test in front of the camera, as a small specimen collection of faces and expressions. The dialogue between facial expression and sound is in a slow feedback loop, learning to interpret each other’s human and machine efforts to instinctively understand one another.