Smile to Vote – Political Physiognomy Analytics

2017 2018

Smile to Vote – Political Physiognomy Analytics is a trans-disciplinary scientific media art project, which combines scientific and artistic methodologies and spans across multiple media.

It portrays the fictitious GovTech startup “smile to vote” and its cutting edge product with the same name: an ultra efficient e-voting booth. By means of AI-based facial scanning, the e-voting booth gages the political conviction of any given person and emulates the process of digitally casting a vote at the upcoming 2019 EU Parliament elections [1] by simply looking into a camera.

The installation is accompanied by a website and a video, both of which subtly oscillate between the plausible and the fantastical.

The website smiletovote.com portrays the fictitious GovTech startup “smile to vote”, while casting a spotlight on the currently hyped IT startup culture and its delusional feasibility phantasies, which seemingly have been decoupled from ethical and moral groundings.

The video, ironically mimicking the standardized aesthetics of scientific presentational videos, explains the step-by-step process of casting a vote with the Smile to Vote e-voting booth and gives insight into the functionality and used AI-methodology of the art piece.

The research paper “Smile to Vote: Towards Political Physiognomy Analytics – Predicting Electoral Behavior from Live Video”, which explains the scientific background of the piece, was published in the double-blind peer-reviewed proceedings of the ISEA2018 conference.

Against the backdrop of currently trending AI-driven political campaigns [2], Smile to Vote escalates the latest research findings in the field of Psychometrics [3] and merges them with the worry-free big scale implementation of facial recognition systems in life style products and daily business processes [4].

The work addresses the religiously recited aspirations of global IT companies of turning the world into a better place by way of their products, as well as their apparent believe in a superhuman objectivity of algorithmical decision making.

Interaction with the Smile to Vote – voting booth translates the complex ramifications of delegating decision making to IT systems into an aesthetic experience, and therefore makes these ramifications immediately perceptible and intuitively comprehensible for the recipient. The work confronts us with the implications for political processes as well as for our understanding of self-determination and freedom of will, once privacy is phased out for good and predictability of our very behavior through IT systems becomes ubiquitous.

 
[1] There are also localized versions of the software for the Bavarian Parliament Elections 2018 and for possible German Federal Elections in 2019.
[2] see. strategic use of big-data-mining and micro trageting by election campaigns during the Presidential Elections in the USA 2016, the Brexit Referendum in the UK 2016, the Presidential Elections in France 2017, the Federal Elections in Germany 2017
[3] see. Wang, Kosinski, 2017, Deep Neural Networks Are More Accurate Than Humans at Detecting Sexual Orientation From Facial Images
[4] see. Large scale rollout of Apple’s “FaceID” (09.2017) and Alibaba’s “Smile to Pay” (09.2017)

 

Awards

2/2018: Nomination, Kunstpreis der Erzdiözese Freiburg

 

Exhibitions – Presentations

2-4/5/2018, republica 18, Berlin, DE
23/6 – 1/7/2018, ISEA2018, Durban, SA
27-31/6/2018, Joint Research Center of the EC, Ispra, IT
6-10/9/2018, Ars Electronica, Linz, AT
14/9 – 27/10/2018, Belleparais, Munich, DE
27/9/2018, Retune Festival, Berlin, DE
14/11/2018, 35th Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival
18/11/2018 – 13/1/2019, Morat-Institut, Freiburg, DE
30/11/2018, University of the Arts, Berlin, DE
11/12/2018, European Association of Biometrics, Berlin, DE
1/2019 – 4/2019, Kunst-Museum, Singen, DE
5/2019 – 7/2019, Stift Neuburg, Heidelberg, DE

 

Press

8/9/2018, Interview, Der Spiegel, DE
14/9/2018, Interview, Ö1, AT
17/9/2018, Interview, B5, DE
19/9/2018, Interview, SWR2, DE

 

Acknowledgements and Credits

Artistic Direction: Alexander Peterhaensel
Executive production: audiovisual architectures lab
Software Development: Julian Netzer
Graphic Design: Christopher Höhn
Carpentry: Konstantin Hildebrandt
Cast: Anna Anders, Julian Netzer
Voiceover: Adam Gardiner
Support: University of the Arts Berlin