The Beijing Culture and Art Center (BCAC) is announcing the exhibition BCAC Open Display VITA ACTIVA: Saving Face, which opened December 26.

The exhibition aims to establish a “digital-synesthetic trust system” through video and scanning technologies and “caressing one’s self.”

Through their art installations, Dutch artists Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat explore people’s emotional and social tensions related to trust, privacy and visibility.

“When we meet, face-to-face connection, body language and touch are core components for reciprocity and trust… However, these sensory experiences are increasingly replaced by identity scanning technologies. We are faced with the paradox of ‘the higher the surveillance, the lower the trust.’ How do we experience our bodies and identities, technically being measured and turned into fixated, controllable ‘products’?” the artists said.

Saving Face emerged from artistic research conducted as part of Lancel’s Ph.D trajectory at Delft University of Technology. Lancel and Maat deconstruct automated control technologies such as surveillance, social media and brain-computer interfaces and connect them with human acts of intimacy, sensory and aesthetic perception to inspire new socio-technical ecosystems.

As part of their art installation, interactive city sculptures with cameras connected to their screens are installed. The cameras are equipped with face-recognition technology. People standing in front of the sculpture are invited to caress their face, which helps the camera to “paint” their portrait on a screen. At the same time as it emerges, the portrait blends with those of previous visitors, “co-creating transparent, untraceable, fluid, networked identities,” the artists said.

Each composed identity is then saved in a user generated database and printed as a Saving Face Passport. The composed identities are projected onto screens in public spaces such as museum halls and city squares, thus “traveling” to various geographic and cultural contexts.

Simina Mistreanu

About Simina Mistreanu

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Simina is a journalist who is passionate about social issues and good stories. So far, she's reported on four continents. She loves dogs and plans to get one in Beijing.

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