June 2006: SVEN - Surveillance Video Entertainment Network (aka "AI to the
People") - makes its street debut.
The SVEN van - aka "SVAN" - kicked off its Beach and World Tour on the streets
of San Diego. Vying for attention with the ocean and The GAP, the SVAN mobile
surveillance music video unit rolled into the upscale beach community of La
Jolla. Parking by the surf and in the downtown shopping district, the SVEN van
set down its brake and set up its camera, video screen and sound system in
search of undiscovered rock stars. http://deprogramming.us/sven/drives.html
What is SVEN?
SVEN is the project that asks the question, "If computer vision technology
can detect when you look like a terrorist, criminal, or other nasty type -
why not have it detect when you look like a rock star?"
SVEN stands for "Surveillance Video Entertainment Network," and SVEN takes the
Entertainment part very seriously. Why? Because people already take
surveillance seriously - it's scary, after all. But that's just because it's
almost always used in ways that scare and mystify people.
So, SVEN has responded by developing some far more entertaining surveillance
technology. The SVEN system, using custom computer vision algorithms, detects
when a pedestrian looks like music video star, and converts boring surveillance
video into a music video before onlookers' eyes. Since it's a surveillance
system, rock-star pedestrians don't know when they're being watched. But anyone
looking on at the SVAN can witness the newly-discovered stars' 15 seconds of
Why the Beach?
SVEN believes the beach is an overlooked but auspicious site for public
interruption. Beachgoers represent some interesting cross-sections of the
Why the World?
The world is an auspicious site for public interruption too.
Why Computer Vision?
Like all technologies, computer vision is subjective. What makes someone look
like a terrorist? Does software "profile" the same way humans do? SVEN develops
its own algorithms - in this case, with the aim of using software to
quantitatively idenitfy "desirable"
pedestrians instead of "undesirable" ones.
The contemporary collision of surveillance, television, and perhaps all forms
of video is familiar by now. What used to be very different forms of video have
somehow become indiscernible. But how does the semiotics of film language play
into all this? What happens to surveillance footage when the language of
narrative and music video is applied to it? SVEN
algorithmically composes and edits surveillance footage in real-time, music
Enough background! What Next?
The SVEN van will be making appearances in various cities throughout the summer
and fall - both randomly-occuring city drives and scheduled drives held in
conjunction with hosted events. A comparative study of culturally and
recreationally diverse beach populations is in the works.
August 7-13, 2006: Downtown San Jose, California
Hosted by the ISEA 2006 Symposium / ZeroOne San Jose Festival
Coming this fall: SVEN open source computer vision software for public spaces.
SVEN is being developed on an ongoing basis, so changes to software and
presentation are made continually.
SVEN Development/Production Team '06: Amy Alexander, Wojciech Kosma, Vincent
Production Assistants/Roadies: Marilia Maschion, Annina Ruest
Initial SVEN Development by: Amy Alexander, Jesse Gilbert, Nikhil Rasiwasia
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