Praise 2014 Database-Driven Generative Illustration
my role: Original concept, front-end programming, and illustration algorithm.
Back-end programming by Santi Grau. Live Site

Praise. Illustrations generated from arrest mugshots appropriated over a two month period from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department's website. Each image submitted to a facial detection algorithm that returns confidence intervals of the subject's primary emotion as well as raster coordinates of facial features. From those two data sets a vector illustration is generated.

"Praise" references James Agee’s and Walker Evans’ literary and photographic portrait of three tenant sharecropper families during the great depression. To protect their identities, Agee changed the names of his subjects and the names of their hometowns. Likewise, I have concealed my subject’s identities by blocking their faces while still preserving some of the “facts” of the image like the position of the face and its expression.

Over the years since the book’s publication in 1941, the sharecroppers’ true identities have been revealed. The shame of having their misery so publicly described still angers and frustrates the descendants of that poor community, many decades later.

Maricopa County’s Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, releases the identity of his subjects — hundreds of them per day. It is an immediate and compounding punishment in the information age. I am not without sin, as I have stored all that information on servers that I am responsible for, but cannot completely guarantee the security of. Agee, likewise admits to struggling with his role as “spy” as he meticulously documents private details of his defenseless subjects’ lives.

Some back-end programming Santi Grau. Original concept, front end programming and illustration algorithm mine.