cMOI [*see-moi - 'see me'] part of project AURORA
self-depicting personae for collective MOBILE OPERATOR [& Other] IDENTITIES
© Graham Budgett 2005-2012

cMOI is device, web, and server-based software to generate dynamically interactive 'talking heads' that represent self-depicting user-identities. Users of cMOI may submit self-descriptive material [facial images, sliding-scale descriptive choices, text & voice data] to an online archive of self-organising identities, instantly experiencing feedback based on their input. For the user, local descriptive choices define the appearance of the 'head' that they see and hear [the proportion of self to other users for instance]; heads are generated on-the-fly by archiving key images and words from each individual. Remotely, a user's data is added to an archive of all previous user input. The interface for playing the archive is an interactive animated facial-image serving-up variable identities based on user input and control. In the process of establishing cMOI as a collective interactive human portrait, the cMOI team seeks to give technology a 'human face' both metaphorically and literally.


If national identities can have a public persona [however stereotypical] why not the newer technologically-connected but diasporic communities? As global communications evolves like synaptic linkage across redistributed human cells of activity, older ethnically or geographically defined representations or impressions of group identity may be superceded by newer consensual self-representations. The trans-national entities that are currently being formed in this way have no geographic base, no national flag, no representation. They may well eventually need true global political representation, but prior to that they could use some visualisation - an image, persona, or public face. We propose a device, internet and server-based suite of software to generate dynamically interactive 'talking heads' based on self-depicting, self-organising, collective user identities.

As the 'engineered human' debate gathers pace, cMOI seeks playfully to interject collective voices as 'talking heads', based on self-depicting group identities. cMOI recognises that present visualisations of engineered humanity could condition future realities and sets out to collect data around the subject for future analysis. Individual contribution of data to the archive indirectly mirrors contribution to the gene-pool in nature; by definition, these collective entities will be trans-personal, trans-cultural, trans-gender, and trans-generational. A user's level of co-operation with cMOI is elective on a scale from anonymous to detailed; they may also select the proportion of their interplay with already established identities in the archive. Data collected will reflect a participant's level of compliance with the parameters of cMOI; user-abuse of the system is anticipated and algorithmically incorporated. It is a stated critical aim of cMOI simultaneously to proselytise and problematise the collection and archiving of personal data. A more playful aim is to give technology a [smart, knowing] human face, metaphorically and literally.

Submission of data: interface

For submission of data the interface comprises a face-recognising image-upload facility, sliding-scale user choices to quantify a user's self-description, and the capability to 'be more specific' with voice/text data. In response to the prompt 'SEX' for instance, a user will be able to slide between 'female' and 'male', and for 'SKIN' between 'dark' and 'light', explaining their choices with voice or text input. Uploaded images and words will be used to create 2D, or better, 3D 'talking head' portraits from users' submissions with just a few image-frames and phonemes.

[continued right>]

3 Major Races
Nancy Burson 1982
Retrieval of data: interface

The interface for retrieval of data will be based on a human face, surrounded like a clock-face by incremental elements or 'axes' representing the aggregrated sliding-scale choices of input. Mouse-movements, key-commands, voice recognition, or gesture [depending on venue] would cause the face to animate dynamically along sets of the configurable axes of self-depiction and to speak elements of the voice/text input data. The screen co-ordinate where axes converge, the centre-point of the face, would represent the most aggregated or entropic human face from the archive.

Any outcome is dependent on the 'self:other' mix chosen by a user. After selecting the initial mix, a user designates pairs of axes to explore the archive of self-descriptions. Mouse-movements or other controls will cause the face to animate according to the user's desire and curiosity. In the example above-right, 'skin', 'sex', 'race', and 'age' are potentially in play and responsive to mouse-input. Not all outcomes are immediately obvious, the 'race' axis at its 'fixed' extreme for instance, displays an aggregate image of all users defining their race as 'fixed' -- a mix. The user can save a 'headshot' locally at any point, a copy of it is also archived. cMOI will speak random selections based on text/voice input to the archive.

Vision Statement

We believe that a community's conceptual and aesthetic engagement in art and the culture of new technologies benefits that community, art, culture in general, and those technologies.
'Tech' communities are not audiences, but smart, active users.

Objectives Expectations
Social and Cultural Relevance

cMOI is a visualisation of integration. Targeted publics will have the opportunity to engage new ideas of collective identity and community at the trans-personal, trans-cultural, trans-gender, and trans-generational level. Users are engaged in playful consideration of profound material.

This project belongs to a growing body of work being produced in the contemporary art world that can be characterised as Information Art. [Implicit in this tendency is the notion that we can learn from existing data and information by reconfiguring it conceptually and looking at the results again in the context of art]. The project also reflects growing assertions of temporary art into the public sphere, at once testing general public assumptions about the term 'artwork', and bringing the work beyond the potently elite history of the gallery/museum paradigm.

Graham Budgett 2005