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Introducing chili design, Fak'ugesi talks

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Presenting "Empathic Frequency", the project realized during the Fak'ugesi African Digital Residency.

Then, introducing the idea of "chili design" - in other words - design should put at the center the ability of technology to allow discovery, curiosity, and inventiveness.

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Empathic frequency is an “emotional radio” – a radio that can be operated through facial expressions.
This is a collaborative way of discovering songs, because one person acts as a listener, while the other is able to change the tracks by adjusting its facial expression through a smile or a funny face for example.

For doing so, I have recorded copious amounts of music from various radio stations in Johannesburg. Then, I have classified these musics in different emotions: happy, surprising, a bit sad. And in the end I made a program that choose and plays a music according to current detected expression.

Code source of the project on github: https://github.com/mathildebuenerd/emotional-radio

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Editor's Notes

  • - Hi everyone
    - I am Mathilde Buenerd
    - I am a French interaction designer and artist currently living in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • - To introduce myself a little bit,
    - My work explores the connections between language, algorithms and social relationships.
    - My main interest lies in how technologies could permit alien ways of looking at things.
    - The projects I did before embody various forms like
    mobile apps, web extensions, connected devices or generative art.
  • - The project I have developped during the residency is called _Empathic frequency_.

    - It is an “emotional radio”
    – a radio that can be operated through facial expressions.
    This is a collaborative way of discovering songs, because
    - One person acts as a listener
    while the other is able to change the tracks by adjusting its facial expression
    through a smile or a funny face for example.

    - For doing so, I have recorded copious amounts of music from various radio stations in Johannesburg.

    - Then, I have classified these musics through different emotions: happy, surprising, a bit sad.

    - And in the end I made a program that choose and plays a music according to current detected expression.
  • - At the center of this project, and my answer to this year theme “Vernacular algorithm”
    - is the exploration of how digital media
    can allow us to forget for a while the cultural differences induced by language.

    - In the projects I did before, I usually use language, writing or talking as my main material.
    - But when I came to Johannesburg, I was very fascinated,
    and also a bit disturbed in my process by the diversity of languages spoken here.

    - That's why I wanted this project to explore the use of universal means of communication – emotions.
    - It focuses on ways of communicating universally, transcending language barriers between people.

    - It is also an attempt to unravel the way in which computers and algorithms view traditional cultures on a more global scale,
    - And how technologies could open up alien means of perception.

    - What I mean when I say that is.
    - We usually use technologies to make our lives more organized, more rational.
    - But what if we use it for losing control,
    for discovering things we would have never discovered if we were in control of everything.
  • - You know
    - What really bothers me nowadays, is that
    - I think our imagination around digital media and what we should use it for,
    is too restricted.

    - That’s why one of the reason why I did this installation,
    - Is to show an alternative, simple and funny ways,
    of using apparently complex and obscure techs such as face recognition.
  • - I strongly believe that technology should not only be seen as a problem solver
    or as a tool for increasing efficiency.

    - We don’t listen to music or go to the cinema to solve any problem or to be more efficient.
    - We do this because it opens our mind.

    - I believe we can also use digital media in this way.
    - Our lives are more and more tangled with technology,
    so we definitely have to find more creative ways of using it.
  • - It has the ability to allow discovery,
  • curiosity,
  • inventiveness
    and bring some unexpectedness in our lives,
    and I think more people should focus on that.


  • - I would like to finish with a quote that I really like
    from the swiss scientist Frederic Kaplan, who was saying in 2007
    that it's maybe time to see technology through a different perspective,
    introducing the notion of "chili technology".

    - Maybe you want chili technology,
    maybe you actually think that technology is something a bit exciting
    that should push you a little bit.
    Not just being in the background and do just what you want to do,
    but sometimes,
    come in your life and have a kind of unexpected effect.
  • - Think about that. Thank you.
  • ×