Mona Lisa's Smile

Mediamatic Salon

18 Sep 2006

A salon with presentations of Nicu Sebe on emotion recognition, Stani Michiels on his nomadic internet cafe and Tjebbe van Tijen on his scrolls.


Mona Lisa's Smile at Mediamatic -

With: Nicu Sebe
The presenters

Nicu Sebe (University of Amsterdam) developed software to examine key facial features. Using that software he could tell us whether Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa was really happy (only 83% so, apparently). The software is able to answer questions such as whether computers could detect your emotional state and react accordingly -they can. With the software, computers track a person's face then analyze the facial expressions in real time, allowing the computer to immediately react to however the user feels. This technology is part of a larger project that aims at understanding human behaviour: Emotion Recognition: Is this the way to go?

Stani Michiels told us about his Copacabana Cybercafe project, a nomadic internet cafe. This project playfully pointed out the manipulative nature of internet and media in general. The idea behind the project is that everyone can have internet for free, and the only price they have to pay is the truth. Each webpage is subtly but radically changed in content, while the layout stays the same. Nothing is ignored: world news nor personal email. Afterwards, people could see for themselves and take a seat behind one of the computers of the Copacabana Cybercafe.

The use of scrolls as information carrier is as old as humanity itself. Tjebbe van Tijen explained how he uses panoramic horizontal scrolls in the tradition of the classic Greek/Roman and East Asian culture, to document social and political realities. These scrolls visualize complex and layered subjects in a comprehensive manner while maintaining their narrative structure. This in contrast to the oft used computer presentation program Powerpoint which pushes the previous image out of sight with each change of slide.