See What You Feel

swyf.jpgOver the past year, has sponsored the See What You Feel project; a graduate thesis designed to examine the ways in which a web-based art project which employs user generated images is able to create a picture of a shared emotional landscape at a specific moment in time.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then writing would of course muddle and complicate their aim. In other words, on paper it sounds a lot more difficult to understand than it actually is, as a visit to their websites makes the details of this project crystal clear and one can’t help but want to be involved.

Opening the site invokes a sense of mystery. Although not difficult to navigate, its structure is entirely unique and one must take a moment to figure out the search patterns and get a feel for the design, which group member Catharine Chase claims they put a lot of work into, “we focused efforts on the look and feel of the site and the user experience. We tried several different designs until we were finally satisfied with the current design that you see on”

A network of interesting photographs spider from the main informational section, and the page is peppered with the following emotions: anger, fear, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise anticipation, love, submission, awe, disapproval, remorse, contempt and aggressiveness and the visitor is asked to choose which of those emotions each photographs evoke. And you can find out what emotions it evoked from other users as well. You can also upload your own photographs to the site and see what kinds of reactions it generates.

The group behind this project utilized a dedicated server and spent a large amount of time familiarizing themselves with isk-Daemon, the open source image analysis engine developed by Ricardo Cabral. They worked very hard to get their photo MySQL database to work with isk-daemon in order to index the photographs so that they could easily identify the photos that were the most similar to those that had been chosen in the database. In its current design, the emotional photographs are dynamically pulled from the SWYF database representing sixteen emotions. The user is then able to interact with the photographs; zooming in or flipping the photo over to read what the photographer had to say about their piece. A user can of course vote and see how others voted, but also, they are able to view other images in the database that are similar to the photo in question. is excited to be providing them with another year of dedicated server space so that they can continue their research.

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