Living Images

If photographs could live and age…


Living Images tries to speculate on the notion of an ageing photograph. What if machines could understand the same way a person understands photographs? Can it then serve an “unconventional” way of seeing photos? The result is an exploration into the aesthetics, behaviours, interaction, scenarios and a working prototype; based on the ideas developed during the social photography project (Industry project with Intel) while working with Wan-Ting Liao.

If there was a way that machines could read and understand a photo, the same way a person would understand the semantics of a picture –”this is a picture of Marcin, Chris and Joshua”, the machine could make semantic connections with other photographs if it understands who is in a photo and where.

For example, computer could see that Chris is standing in between Marcin and Joshua. It could then check if there is a newer photo of Chris online (on Facebook, Flickr etc.), and update Chris in the old picture. So a meaningful photograph that someone wishes to frame and keep, becomes a living growing photo-montage.

If the computer has this data over thousands of images – who’s who in photos, also where in the frame their face is, shoulders, who is standing next to whom etc., it can make interesting correlations between the people appearing in those photographs.

A file format (essentially an XML) was designed to record such symbolic meta-data on photos. The social aspect of such a photo becomes quite interesting when such data is available. For example – who took the highest number of photos with me in them this year?, or who was Yufan standing next to, in all the photos taken at CIID this year?

The behavioural aspect of such a living and ageing photograph is quite interesting as well. Will someone be more cautious about the photos they upload to social networks? What will happen to the living picture when a person in the photograph dies?

The emotional value for the target group (people who would love to keep select photos because they want to remember and connect with the people in those photos) becomes quite self-evident when we imagine different scenarios. Imagine an old family portrait or a photograph of your child growing up.