A Bag Of Visual Words: Exploring Photography And Computer Vision

TPG Geekender: Experimental Photo School
Nicolas Malevé @ The Photographers’ Gallery, London
Sunday 29 May 2016, 10:00 – 13:00

The workshop A Bag Of Visual Words explores photography and computer vision with the Scandinavian Insitute of Computational Vandalism.

Today “computer vision” techniques are pervasive, integrated in smartphone cameras, surveillance systems, and cloud-based image search and tagging. Over the last 15 years, computer vision engineers have increasingly used so-called “visual vocabularies”, clusters of algorithmically determined visual features to index and order image collections. But what precisely are these features in visual terms? What can photography practices offer to (and receive from) these techniques?

This workshop is inspired by the Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism (SICV) founded by Asger Jorn shortly after leaving the Situationist International in 1961. The SICV was an art and research association experimenting with the practice of collage, the forces of photography, image archives and political imaginaries. Today Computational Vandalism challenges the assumptions at the basis of computer vision, the discipline that programmatically ties together the visual and the mnemonic.

Through discussions and hands-on experiments, the workshop addresses the questions: What does computer vision have to offer to image practitioners? When does a cheesy effect become a scientific instrument? How does an instrument of surveillance become a digital paintbrush? How is an image more than the sum of its pixels?

The workshop is run by Michael Murtaugh and Nicolas Malevé of the Scandinavian Institute of Computational Vandalism, an art and research group engaging with archives, software and other media forms, whose project Algorithmic Arabesque is currently on display on the Gallery Media Wall as part of Contours.

It forms part of a series of workshops and events as part of Experimental Photo School, a weekend exploring new skills and perspectives emerging from photography in digital culture.