Artist Designs Face Jewelry to Block Facial Recognition Surveillance Cameras

October 17, 2019 at 6:18 pm

Artists are making a fashion/political statement against government and corporate surveillance with jewelry, LED glasses, transparent masks and other “face art” designed to block facial recognition technology

The same technology that recognizes all the faces in the photos you upload to Facebook is being used by governments and corporations to spy on us.

That might sound futuristic, but it’s already here.

Last month, we learned China just developed a “super camera” capable of zooming way in and identifying every face in a crowd of tens of thousands. This technology will likely soon replace the 200 million video cameras already watching over citizens’ every public move.

Facial recognition surveillance cameras are equipped with artificial intelligence that enables them to take biometric measurements of a person’s face, feed the image into a database of images and identify the person.

And they aren’t just being used in China. They’re used by governments and businesses in Europe and the United States.

The FBI already has access to more than 640 million photos of us on it’s facial recognition database, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

And retail stores are already admittedly using the technology to identify shoplifters and potentially spy on customers for marketing reasons as they peruse the aisles.

To combat the invasion of privacy, artists are making a statement, both political and fashionable.

From LED-lit glasses to mirrored masks, they are trying to raise public awareness about the extent to which we are being watched.

Mask that leaves your face transparent to humans, but unidentifiable to AI. Photo Credit: Jip van Leeuwenstein / HKU Design

The latest, most elegant political protest comes from Polish artist Ewa Nowak.

Her brass face jewelry design, dubbed Incognito, covers the cheekbones and forehead just enough to throw off the artificially intelligent cameras.

She tested several designs against Facebook’s DeepFace technology before she found one that worked.

Nowak’s art project was inspired by light-up glasses invented by Japan’s National Institute of Informatics to foil face recognition technology.

“I was just amazed how they could identify our gender, age, and mood,” she said.

“But also how the development is constantly leveling up. I was surprised about how even if we have our face partially covered, how it can still follow us and distinguish us.”

The second part of her “Incognito” project was a mirrored helmet, intended to make an even louder statement by reflecting the cameras back to themselves:

The main point is “creating awareness,” Canadian art and fashion professor Henry Navarro Delgado told Slate.

“That’s why fashion is so effective: You have something to say, you wear it, people see you, it’s immediate. Part of the purpose is to make people who normally don’t think about this aware that these technologies are out there, and we’re being watched.”