Architecture Machine Group Projects: Videodisc, M.I.T. 1982
My dissertation included FACEMAKER III, a videodisc with over 2500 individual faces. A project initiated in 1979 by Bob Mohl as part of the Aspen Mapping project, we added over two thousand more stereo photographs of faces, each sized and registered about the eyes. Post-registration was done photographically with an optical printer. Each slide was manually re-photographed while mounted in a precision stand adjusted to exactly match the two points of light relfected in the eyes from the flash with fiducial marks in the viewfinder.
Scott Fisher worked with us to make a stereo mount for twin 35mm cameras so each face was actually photographed twice as a stereo pair. In order to produce a video 3D image on the videodisc, the right and left photographs were interlaced onto alternate fields in the disc mastering process. Viewing the images in stereo was achieved with PLZT glasses; piezo ceramic lenses synchronized with the video signal to enable each eye to alternatively see just one field.
The rapidly changing face was an eerie image, much copied in the ensuing decades. It served both as a giant database of faces for facial identification (the funders' intent - the project was titled, IDENTIDISC) but also as a vast portrait of humanity – one face changing 30 times a second – representing old and young, all races, male and female.
This videodisc has been widely exhibited as both art and science and was featured in the traveling exhibition, ABOUT FACE from the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego. Today, over two decades later, the database of faces is still widely used in university psychology and cognitive science labs. This research and thesis anticipated current work on emotion and facial expression for computerized agents.