The Face-Swap Archive

6-channel video installation, screens, media players, cables, 2017

The Face-Swap Archive is an exploration of the monstrous in algorithmic sight. The approximately 100 video clips explore the weird side of selfie culture and descend into the depths of the uncanny valley. While most selfie apps appeal to our vanity, offering us more attractive, likeable, perfect versions of ourselves, face-swap technology offers the opposite: a horrifying glimpse of ourselves distorted through an algorithmic lens. The expansive collection illuminates the parameters according to which an algorithm defines, or "recognises" a face - often resulting in bizarre errors like a dress hanging on a coat hanger that somehow becomes a mask to be worn.

These diverse digital masks - real faces, either fitting or unrecognisably distorted, and occasionally objects, shadows, or patterns that the app's algorithm detects as faces - are stretched like cloth over the face and as the subject in the videos moves, plays with the mask, and interacts with it, we begin to get a sense of its materiality. Humans have always understood themselves through their social interactions, we value ourselves in large part according to our evaluation of how others see us; as we spend more time looking into the mirror of our smartphones, how will this perception be shifted to accommodate not only how other people see us, but also our tech?

The Face-Swap Archive was commissioned by Benjamin Jantzen for the exhibition Selfciety at the whiteBOX Gallery in Munich in January 2017.
Selfciety, whiteBOX Gallery, curated by Benjamin Jantzen, Munich, 2017.
re:ciety@ArtMUC, ArtMUC Art Fair - Praterinsel, curated by Benjamin Jantzen, Munich, 2017., Wrong Biennale, curated by Juha van Ingen and Jarkko Räsänen, online, 2017.
Mermaids and Unicorns, peer to space, curated by Tina Sauerländer and Peggy Schoenegge, online, 2017.
Video Documentation