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Sheung Yiu

Sheung Yiu (HK/FI) is a Hong-Kong-born, image-centered artist and researcher based in Helsinki. His artwork explores the act of seeing through algorithmic image systems and sense-making through networks of images. His research interests concern the increasing complexity of algorithmic image systems in contemporary digital culture. He looks at photography through the lens of new media, scales, and network thinking; He ponders how the posthuman cyborg vision and the technology that produces it transform ways of seeing and knowledge-making. Adopting multi-disciplinary collaboration as a mode of research, his works examine the poetics and politics of algorithmic image systems, such as computer vision, computer graphics, and remote sensing, to understand how to see something where there is nothing, how to digitize light, and how vision becomes predictions. His work takes the form of photography, videos, photo-objects, exhibition installations, and bookmaking.


Contrary to the common wisdom, human tends to 'judge a book by its cover.' Across Eastern and Western cultures, society has developed ways to predict a person's character through facial features. In East Asian cultures, the esoteric practice of face-reading promises the power to see into one's future through facial analysis. Though face reading remains largely a folk belief, many continue to seek the occult power of predictions from face readers. In the West, the forgotten pseudo-science of physiognomy, combined with statistics and machine learning, re-enters our modern lives as facial recognition algorithms, where societal biases and individual prejudices continue perpetuating.

In the project, I put my face through various processes of creating predictions, namely Western physiognomy, face reading, face recognition, facial phenotyping, facial generation, and synthetic facial data. Through researching and collecting materials from different facial measurement practices across cultures, I create a video essay revealing the similarities between two predictive regimes centered around the face: one remains folklore, while the other is extensively applied to almost every aspect of our daily life.

I mix the visual language of the occult in face reading with the 'scientific' in facial recognition in an attempt to blur the line between practices from the East and the West. The project challenges the automation bias of facial recognition (or what I call Western face reading). It unveils the deeper, often-unexamined meta-narratives underlying these practices. A face is more than just a face. It is an interface of predictions trapped between two analytical frameworks and cosmological views that are not as different as it originally seems.

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