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About Face - Re-disguising the Obvious

posted Mar 27, 2014, 1:10 AM by Ellen Pearlman

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Prototype for Anticontact Lens for iris pattern recognition

Dutch Artist Simone C. Niquille motto is “Technoflesh! Not cyborgs, just humans & technology. Encrypted bodies, facial economies, networked optics and private spaces.” She uses her philosophy to disguise the obvious. Displayed above is a prototype for a contact lens that skewers the metrics of iris recognition technology.

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Watermark_Crystals (TM) showing up in flash photography

Watermark_Crystals (TM) are a translucent face powder that only show up when used with flash photography.  They are ideal for skewing identity photos, but only in situations where the photo is not inspected on the spot by authorities, such as news and crowd identifiers. If you wear it for your passport or motor vehicle license, it could get complicated.

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Glammouflage (TM) tee shirt of Michael Jackson impersonator confusing facial recognition software

Another great product is “Glammouflage,” tee shirts with faces splayed all over them confusing facial recognition software. She refers to it as “facial recognition dazzle” based on WWII camouflage. I previously covered that topic in my blog post on neo-geo camouflage. The photos on the tee shirts are of celebrity impersonators like Britney Spears, Barack Obama and Michael Jackson.  It does not attempt to conceal the wearers face, just confuse the facial recognition software. 

British Artist James Bridle took a more Medieval approach, creating an electronic spaulder, the shoulder plate portion of a coat of arms. Inside the spaulder is a CCTV infra red detector.  When it receives detects the light, two transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) pads taped underneath to the wearer’s shoulder causes them to involuntarily  contract.  

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Spader Kit: 1. Infrared sensor, 2. 730 nm bandpass filter, 3. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

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The assembled spaulder

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TENS Patches on the shoulder

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Shoulder with spaulder jerking up in response to CCTV camera on building center top of photo

Finally there is the more radical Facial Weaponization Suite by Zach Blas that discusses facial recognition as the final frontier of control for neo-liberal governments and bio-metric companies that produce iris recognition and facial scans.

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Faces in an anonymous crowd - Not!

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Scanning “unwanted person” as they enter the lobby of a building

Biometric devices are becoming tools of control in policing national borders, citizenship and enemy status, criminals, and most chillingly to parse and track potential “risk categories” of individuals. If the NSA revelations and the monitoring of “three hops” from any suspect serve as a template, as they say in NASA rocket launch monitoring parlance, “Houston, we have a problem.” Another issue is the way they rely on “stable and normative conceptions of identity.” This means gender interpretations, life style (usually corporate), discrimination against race, class, gender, sex, and disability. 

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Blobbing the man

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If he lost weight, would the algorithm still function?

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And don’t forget skin texture analysis

Currently faces are collected in databases and looked at for a number of criminal activities - so I would skip going to the shopping mall for sure, a hotspot of biometric collection opportunities. 

What is chilling is these technologies have been used against Occupy Wall Street activists, as well as another extremely downtrodden group - Afghan citizens. 

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