Facial Recognition Defense Workshop: A Make-Up Tutorial

CV Dazzled Bronwyn and Whitney (in the lower left) escape recognition, while the men do not.
CV Dazzled Bronwyn and Whitney (in the lower left) escape recognition, while the men do not.

This is a guest post by artist Bronwyn Lewis, who will be teaching the workshop

As part of his MFA at NYU’s International Telecommunications Program, NYC artist Adam Harvey developed CV Dazzle (short for computer vision dazzle) using one of the common algorithms used in facial recognition software that measures images for variations in light and shadow to indicate if a human face is present. As any good drag queen will remind you, your eyebrows, nose, and cheekbones look lighter than the rest of your face—they are more prominent so the light hits them first—while your eye sockets are darker because they are in shadow, and your mouth is darker, because the skin of your lips is thinner, so it appears dark, red, or pink.

In traditional makeup, you exaggerate some (or all) of these qualities. Harvey, working with hair stylists and makeup artists, created looks that targeted the areas of the face that facial recognition software looks for, and disrupted them, by putting unexpected blocks of hair or makeup there, so that the algorithm could not determine for certain if a face was there. The picture above is from the Henry’s Spring Open House last Friday where I was giving CV Dazzle makeovers. When the software detects faces, it places a red box around them. My hairdo and Whitney’s makeup allowed us to escape detection.

There are also some facial recognition programs that measure your specific biometrics and basically “memorize” your face which is how Facebook can automatically tag you or your friends –we have taught the software what we look like.

This Thursday April 11th, we’ll be learning more about how the software work, why we should be concerned about the increase in surveillance by the government and private sector, what “dazzle” camouflage is, and how to create our own digital camouflage –using hair and makeup to thwart face detection.

Interested? Tickets here.