Beverley Hood and Pauline Goldsmith

It’s all about the feelings…

Beverley Hood appears as if on a computer screen, a chart of stats running below her face

12 to 16 July

It’s all about the feelings… is a project about emotion. Specifically, how emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies attempt to read our emotions.

Sentiment recognition systems are used as tools to help companies understand user interactions on mobile, website, gaming and educational platforms. Pitched as capturing ‘real-time emotion’ and ‘non-conscious responses’, these systems use face recognition to map facial expressions, with natural language processing and biometrics, to systematically identify users affective states i.e. emotion. However, AI systems are not without bias and problematic standardisation, which potentially reinforce privileges and inequalities, racism, sexism, ageism and western cultural bias.

This pilot project brings together artist Beverley Hood and actor Pauline Goldsmith with AI, and affective computing and psychology researchers, to explore ways to make visible the algorithmic biases and limitations of sentiment recognition systems as they attempt to read us.

Through a series of remote and in-person performance workshops with actors and performers, skilled in professionally crafted emotional display, the project scrutinises whether the technology is really capable of seeing our non-conscious (as the marketing suggests) or just what we present, through choice, control, cultural signifiers, etc. The project workshop will tease out how authentic and rich this relationship between the performer and technology can be, and the slippage between technological aspirations and lived reality.

This project is also supported by Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh.