As images of a dystopian future slowly creep into the frame of reality, we are constantly reminded of how little control we have over our privacy. As one man showed over a year ago, many social media sites keep an uncomfortably large amount of data about us, starting with what apps we use and ending with the locations we frequent. And while some have accepted this reality as inescapable, saying that they’d give up their sense of safety and control for convenience, others are either fighting back or at least trying to be more conscious of what information trail they leave behind on the internet.
Polish designer Ewa Nowak tackled the issue of algorithms that use facial recognition. After all, while it might seem helpful when you’re trying to tag your friends in your birthday pictures on Facebook, such technology could pose serious threats to anyone’s privacy if it was used with malicious intent.
Ewa Nowak used Facebook’s DeepFace facial recognition algorithm to design “INCOGNITO”
Nowak created ‘INCOGNITO’, a minimalist brass mask that covers a person’s face to prevent facial recognition software from identifying them. The mask is a response to public surveillance in both, its shape and the project’s message.
“This project was preceded by a long-term study on the shape, size and location of mask elements so that it actually fulfills its task,” the artist described the process behind her project. Nowak used Facebook’s own DeepFace algorithm to test the mask, and according to her, it works!
The mask features 3 main shapes. A curved rectangle that sits between the brows on the forehead as well as a pair of circles that are positioned under the eyes, on the cheeks. The shapes are connected by thick wire that resembles and fits like a pair of glasses on the wearer’s face.
Nowak also showcases the other part of the ‘INCOGNITO’ project, a mirror-helmet that is much more conceptual and covers the entire head. “The second part of the project is a kind of object – a joke, a mirror hood resembling the user to the environment,” the artist explains.
If you wish to avoid facial recognition like people in futuristic cyberpunk movies do, this mask might just be the right answer for you!