Arthur Elsenaar: Electric Eigen Portraits

  • ©2009, Arthur Elsenaar



    Electric Eigen Portraits


Creation Year:



Artist Statement:

    Electric Eigen-Portraits shows the human face in a state of externally triggered resonance. Eight facial muscles are subjected to a simple on/off stimulation pattern, with a repetition period that varies gradually between 2 seconds and 100 milliseconds. At fast stimulation rates, the external input loses its precise control of the muscle contractions: resonance patterns appear which are primarily determined by the intrinsic mechanical properties of the facial muscle system. The face thus displays its own mechanical properties on the face itself, a self-portrait of the face, manifested by its Eigen-frequencies: an “Eigen-Portrait.” The soundtrack is a direct audio rendition of the electrical signals that are applied to the face displayed on the screen. Videography by Jeroen Meijer and Josephine Jasperse.

    Electric Eigen-Portraits and Face Shift are two video works that both experiment with algorithmic facial choreography. These works turn a computer-controlled human face into a medium for kinetic art. Small, precisely controlled electrical impulses are employed to trigger the facial muscles of a live human being into rendering involuntary expressions. As the human face is controlled by a digital computer instead of a neural brain, it can be made to perform in ways that are often unusual and surprising.



Electric Eigen-Portraits [excerpt] from Arthur Elsenaar on Vimeo.