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SVEN (Surveillance Video Entertainment Network)

The project that asks the question: If computer vision technology can be used to detect when you look like a terrorist, criminal, or other "undesirable" - why not when you look like a rock star? SVEN was first created as a performance and performed in 2006. It was then upgraded and adapted as an installation in 2007. SVEN-the-installation came out of retirement briefly in 2010-2011.

SVEN (Surveillance Video Entertainment Network) is a real-time computer vision and surveillance system that detects "likely rock stars" among pedestrians and generates music videos based upon their features. SVEN is a public space project, exhibited in both stationary locations and as a performance in a van-based "SVEN Mobile Unit."

The SVEN system is comprised of of a camera, monitor, and two computers that can be set up in public places - especially in situations where a CCTV monitor might be expected. The software consists of a custom computer vision application that tracks pedestrians and detects their characteristics, and a real-time video processing application that receives this information and uses it to generate music-video like visuals from the live camera feed. The resulting video and audio are displayed on a monitor in the public space, interrupting the standard security camera type display each time a potential rock star is detected. The idea is to humorously examine and demystify concerns about surveillance and computer systems not in terms of being watched, but in terms of how the watching is being done - and how else it might be done if other people were at the wheel..

There's also the other side of the SVEN coin: when do rock stars look like you? We noticed that music video cinematography and editing often resembles surveillance footage. So in the spirit of reality TV, we programmed SVEN's cinematography algorithms to make surveillance music videos live...