You’re angry. Steam pours from your ears. Thunder and lightning cleave through the black sky above. Suddenly, you smile. The sun appears. Birds flutter around your head. In the distance, flowers start dancing.
While this may sound like a deleted scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? it’s a scenario that can be cleverly brought to life by technology.
Visitors to the ARS17 exhibition at the museum of contemporary art Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland, have had the chance to create art using nothing but their emotions.
Developed in collaboration between Kiasma, Microsoft, app creator Great Apes and the design agency Wörks, Emotion Loader is an exhibit which analyses the emotional states of visitors by recognising their facial expressions, before creating an animated video featuring users as the centerpiece, which can then be kept as a souvenir.
The aim of the installation was to create a new kind of application which would engage and include the audience themselves in the creation of art. The system is powered by Microsoft’s artificial intelligence-powered Emotion API and Azure cloud.
The Emotion API recognizes emotions like happiness, sorrow or surprise, from human facial expressions in real time. Animated effects are added to the expressions – all of which are displayed on a Microsoft Surface Hub – and the video is saved on the Azure cloud, so that it can easily be downloaded.
Emotion Loader fascinates people because of the unique connection it forges with visitors, fueled by having their own faces and emotions as the central focus. The application has been particularly popular among younger visitors, but pupils on class trips as well as pensioners are also queuing to create their own custom art. Emotion Loader has also been put through its paces by tourists visiting Helsinki, thanks to its dual Finnish and English language support.
ARS17 visitors who use Emotion Loader are treated to a 30-minute video compiled from their emotions, which can easily be shared on social media. After opening its doors at the end of March up to the end of June, visitors have created an enormous amount of Emotion Loader videos – close to 10,000 in total.
In keeping with the original idea, Emotion Loader has successfully combined technology, creativity and personal user experiences with great success – as demonstrated by its popularity, and the desire to use technology to create personal, contemporary art.
Microsoft – as one of the main partners of the ARS17 exhibition – is proud to have brought technology into the world of art, allowing for creative reflection and a platform to share the experience with others.
There’s still plenty of time to see Kiasma’s ARS17 exhibition – it’s open until 24 January 2018, so feel free to head on down if you’re in the area and create your own virtual masterpiece.