post from chris frith

March 16th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 12:24 am

There is a recent publication showing that people can quite easily ‘read’ the average expression in a group of people.

Current Biology, Vol 17, R751-R753, 04 September 2007

Rapid extraction of mean emotion and gender from sets of faces

Jason Haberman1,2 and David Whitney1,2

1 The Center for Mind and Brain, The University of California, Davis, California 95618, USA
2 The Department of Psychology, The University of California, Davis, California 95618, USA


We frequently encounter crowds of faces. Here we report that, when presented with a group of faces, observers quickly and automatically extract information about the mean emotion in the group. This occurs even when observers cannot report anything about the individual identities that comprise the group. The results reveal an efficient and powerful mechanism that allows the visual system to extract summary statistics from a broad range of visual stimuli, including faces.

post Humans evolved color vision to see emotion, not food

March 11th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 5:42 am

Your eyes evolved to see rosy cheeks.

The eyes in humans and their closest relatives in the primate world are geared to detect subtle changes in skin tone caused by blood oxygen levels, according to a new study from Caltech.

The spectral sensitivity of color cones in humans and chimps are somewhat unusual. Bees have four color cones that are evenly spread across the visible color spectrum. Birds have three color cones. By contrast, humans have three types of cones that are sensitive to a limited range of wavelengths. The closeness, however, allows for the detection of subtle tone changes. When someone blushes, the skin becomes red from elevated oxygen levels. If you’re exhausted, you become pale from the lack of oxygen. When a primate is ready to mate, oxygen levels rise again leading to blushing. The human and chimp eye can capture these different color levels, which can be signals of fitness or heartiness.

Interestingly enough, primates completely covered in hair have different types of color detectors. The parts of skin (the scalp) that are insensitive to color blushing in humans and chips are also covered in hair. Since the skin there can’t help express emotion, the theory goes, it might as well help you keep warm.

“For a hundred years, we’ve thought that color vision was for finding the right fruit to eat when it was ripe,” says Mark Changizi, a theoretical neurobiologist and postdoctoral researcher at Caltech. “But if you look at the variety of diets of all the primates having trichromat vision, the evidence is not overwhelming.”

post planning the project

March 8th, 2008

The last few days have flown. Sitting in my studio looking out the the amazing mountains of Banff. The residency has been great. The week has been full of artist presentations.

Working on the stages of Chameleon: mapping it out in a way that might be clear to all collaborators.

1. ethnographic style film to understand emotional contagion (adam kendon pub experiment)


2. live tool to understand emotional contagion and isolate micro expressions, most contagious gestures/expressions.


3. working on emotional algorithms


4. Looking at emotional algorithms with context (live feel from web or example live feed of –


5. Looking at emotional contagion and how it works in social groups – the propagation of emotions (making the algorithms of stage 3 more complex and networked)

looking at the propagation of emotions

6. Bringing in another mode of interaction into stage 5? – for example touch. If we touch the work (the act of touching is very personal) and also we know that the audience member needs to be near to the screen – which makes it easier for the emotion expression software to read the participant (not so spontaneous)


7. Integration of real time facial expression software. Using a computer with camera embedded test how it works with stage 5 and 6.


8. Introducing multi-participants – three emotion recognition cameras/three networked screens.


9. Idea for final version, up to 20 networked screens/ 8 real time facial recognition cameras.


post God helmet

March 7th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 4:08 am

God helmet
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The term God Helmet refers to a controversial experimental apparatus in neurotheology. The apparatus, placed on the head of an experimental subject, stimulates the brain with magnetic fields. Some subjects reported experiences similar to spiritual experiences.[1] The leading researcher in this area is Michael Persinger. Persinger uses a modified snowmobile helmet or a head-circlet device nicknamed the Octopus that contain solenoids which create a weak but complex magnetic field over the brain’s right-hemisphere parietal and temporal lobes. Persinger reports that at least 80 per cent of his participants experience a presence beside them in the room, which they variously say feels like God or someone they knew who had died.
There is controversy as to whether Persinger measured actual effects or just led his subjects into believing they experienced an electronically-induced epiphany. In December 2004 Nature reported that a group of Swedish researchers, replicating the experiment under double-blind conditions, was not able to verify the effect. Susan Blackmore, experimental psychologist and experienced researcher of “paranormal” experiences, was reluctant to give up on the theory just yet. She said “When I went to Persinger’s lab and underwent his procedures I had the most extraordinary experiences I’ve ever had….I’ll be surprised if it turns out to be a placebo effect.” Persinger, however, takes issue with the Swedish attempts to replicate his work. “They didn’t replicate it, not even close,” he says. He argues that the Swedish group did not expose the subjects to magnetic fields for long enough to produce an effect. He also stresses that some of his studies were double blinded.
A report of an experiment on Richard Dawkins in 2003 said:
The experiment is based on the recent finding that some sufferers from temporal lobe epilepsy, a neurological disorder caused by chaotic electrical discharges in the temporal lobes of the brain, seem to experience devout hallucinations that bear a striking resemblance to the mystical experiences of holy figures such as St Paul and Moses.
Dawkins was reported not to have experienced a religious feeling. The report said:
Dr Persinger has explained away the failure of this Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator. Before donning the helmet, Prof Dawkins had scored low on a psychological scale measuring proneness to temporal lobe sensitivity.

post Anger slows healing process after injury

March 5th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 4:12 am

PARIS – THE adage that laughter is the best medicine has been backed by an unusual investigation which says that people who seethe with anger take longer to recover from injury.
Previous studies have linked ill tempered behaviour, whether brow-beating or road rage, with higher incidence of coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke, especially among men.

But the new study, published on Wednesday in the British journal Brain, Behaviour, Immunity, is the first controlled experiment that directly measures the impact of ire on the healing process.

post emotion meter –

March 5th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting research — Tina @ 4:04 am

Describe the event or thoughts you had just before experiencing the Emotion. Describe some positive things about this event. If your fears came true, what’s the worst thing that could happen? If the worst thing did happen, what steps could you take? At this point the program appears to be taking a cognitive approach. Cognitive psychologists see emotions as interactions between events in your life and beliefs or expectations that you have. While not explicitly asking about beliefs or expectations, the program gets you to think about your feelings and the events that led up to them. This alone will be useful for many people.

The program’s real power is only evident when several week’s worth of emotions have been entered. The option to “review” allows you to browse through prior entries to “identify trends or scripts which are limiting your life.” You can browse all past entries, entries involving a certain emotion, entries involving a certain arena in your life, or a combination of emotion and arena (such as “anxious” about “spouse”). Here the power of the computer is used to used to help you see trends that might not otherwise be evident.

That power is even more evident when you graph or analyze your data. Simple bar graphs present trends in the data in intuitive fashion. Here you can see your “overall emotional makeup”, the trends in your emotions over time, your emotional makeup for a particular arena of your life, the progress you are making in different arenas and with different emotions. You can print the graphs in black and white or color.

post affect theory

March 5th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,working on conceptual threads — Tina @ 3:59 am

nine affects, listed with a low/high intensity label for each affect and accompanied by its biological expression

Enjoyment/Joy – smiling, lips wide and out
Interest/Excitement – eyebrows down, eyes tracking, eyes looking, closer listening

Surprise/Startle – eyebrows up, eyes blinking

Anger/Rage – frowning, a clenched jaw, a red face
Disgust – the lower lip raised and protruded, head forward and down
Dissmell (reaction to bad smell) – upper lip raised, head pulled back
Distress/Anguish – crying, rhythmic sobbing, arched eyebrows, mouth lowered
Fear/Terror – a frozen stare, a pale face, coldness, sweat, erect hair
Shame/Humiliation – eyes lowered, the head down and averted, blushing

post The relationship between social cognition and emotion

March 4th, 2008

The relationship between social cognition and emotion
Chair: Kevin N. Ochsner, Columbia University
Speakers: Daniela Schiller and Elizabeth Phelps, Jennifer S. Beer, Christian Keysers, Kevin N. Ochsner
Summary: It has been said that humans are the Social Animal, and that what sets us apart from other species is the complexity of our social relationships and the culture it makes possible. To understand the neural mechanisms underlying these social abilities, recent functional imaging work has attempted to clarify the neural mechanisms underlying various socially-relevant behaviors, ranging from person perception to self-regulation, empathy and imitation. Despite mounting evidence that that the neural bases of social cognition are quite similar to those of emotion, little work has attempted to explain what this similarity might mean. Each talk in this symposium will shed light on this issue. Two talks (Schiller & Phelps, Beer) will show that brain systems typically associated with emotion – the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex – are essential for person perception, because targets for social judgments – including ourselves – have affective relevance. Two other talks (Keysers, Ochsner) will show that interactions among regions involved in motor control, affect, and mental state attribution underlie our tendency to take on the emotions of others and empathize with them. Taken together, these talks suggest that social cognition and emotion share common mechanisms that interact to support social behavior in multiple contexts.

post Arrived at the Banff Center

March 3rd, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting places — Tina @ 2:56 pm

We arrived at the Banff Center yesterday. It was a 3.30 am start in Boston – flight to Toronto, onwards to Calgary, onwards to Banff. A big day, and Pablo wasn’t too happy at the end of the last flight.

But we got here. I am here to take part in the Liminal Screen Residency at the Banff New Media Institute. I will be here for a month, with artists from around the world working on screen based work. This residency splits up my Australian Network for Art and Technology Synapse residency – My acceptance to the program only came through late December/early Jan, way after my acceptance to the ANAT Synapse Grant which came through in July.

I will be heading back to the MIT Media Lab at the end of the month to work further with Rana El Kaliouby. I am then back to London to work with Chris Frith at the Wellcome Department of Neuroimaging and Hugo Critchley at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School for a further six weeks.

The timing of the Liminal Screen Residency is important. Its time to start fleshing out ideas with Chris, Rana and Hugo – and in order to do this, I really need to start producing the visual side of the project. I have access to great production facilities and a supportive team to start working through ideas. It really feels time for my to start some visual experiments as the last month has involved meetings, discussions, dialogue, writing, more meetings, more dialogue – attending a few talks, and more meetings. Its been important to have this tim to digest information, try to understand it better. The ideas I am dealing with, the scientific research is very complex, I need time to work out what is being said. Often, after my meetings with Hugo, I spend about five hours online chasing up what Hugo mentions in passing. Trying to understand the language, the methodologies. Sometimes I feel the more one discusses, writes, discusses, writes, often the poetry of the work can dissipate. The unexpected, the spontaneous seems far away, bottle necked by words, which often feel too limiting. I feel it deep in my bones the need to start producing visually. It will be interesting to see what transpires over the next month. Also, I think some visualizations are needed as a language that all the collaborators can understand. Its been hard to bring all the collaborators together so far.

The Liminal Screen Residency: video-based residency programs: a community of like-minded artists, developers, and researchers engaging in a collective critical inquiry into video as a medium. Liminal Screen invites media practitioners to come to The Banff Centre and experiment, interrogate, and reformulate the art, communications, and distribution of the moving image”.


Hoda Adra
Jeremy Bailey
Ruth Catlow
Marc Garrett
Carlo Ghioni
Tina Gonsalves
Mario Marquez
Michel Panouillot
Natacha Roussel
Celine Semaan
Ute Waldhausen

We have a great apartment style room which we have settled into pretty quickly. The kitchen will be a bonus as the food in the restaurant is hard to live on. Also, Matt, my partner is a chef. So having our own kitchen will be wonderful.

I first came to the Banff Center in 2002, on a new media arts residency from the Australia Council. It was a changing point with my work. At the time, I began feeling constricted by the single channel format. I became more interested in creating embodied art experiences. I began investigating how my artwork could probe the audiences’ emotional body, using their emotions to drive the video narratives. This lead to “Medulla Intimata”, a sensor-based video jewellery prototype that monitored the wearer’s emotional state by using prosody. This lead to more interactive work, and a collaborative methodology. A lot of my collaborations have started from my times at the Banff Center, and many friendships as well.

I have been back about six times, for residencies, co-productions and conferences. Its a fantastic center – a great place to produce work, to meet people, to be very supported. As far as I know, there is no where like it in the world. A team helps you with your projects, your fed, housed, studios and access to great equipment. And the setting is amazing. So, its great to be here.

The residency starts tomorrow

We went for a walk, big shop in the supermarket, chilled out.





post Reflection of my time at MIT

March 3rd, 2008

Looking back on the week there – what do I remember? It was pretty stressful time – I got lost in a computer breakdown, which ate up my time for about two days. The tech team there was fantastic in helping me out, but it was a disappointment – I wanted to spend more time meeting people, and it was hard to do that when I was in the midst of losing so much work. I also needed to get all the technology, new computer, etc, all sorted before I left for the Banff center to the Liminal Screen Residency. At Banff, everything is hours away.


rana el kaliouby, at the affective computing group, MIT

Otherwise, my time was spent sitting on the couch of the group – just working away and talking to whoever past me by. It felt like a pretty exciting place to be – lots of great ideas being developed. A lot of the implementations seem to suffer from lack of an aesthetic input – I think there is a need for more artists in the lab. The lab seemed a very supportive place to work, although everyone seemed to be lost in their own research, the lack of space meant people were always running into each other, talking, sharing ideas. The lab was messy, which felt good, prototypes falling all over the place. Screens and computers everywhere. Groups were constantly meeting, and there seemed to be quite a bit of cross pollination.





There were camera crews, journalists and company representatives constantly touring. Prototypes being demonstrated.

I will be coming to the lab a few times a year to work on the CHAMELEON project and it will be great to get to know the place a bit better.

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