Under the title Becoming Illegible, this project is in dialogue with both social media face filters and facial recognition. It applies face filters to an image, over and over, warping the image and monitoring for the moment when the image has become so distorted that facial recognition no longer detects a face. It also applies these filters to a series of landscape photos, which also melt, warp, and blur progressively, translating the questions of how we become legible to machine learning, into the arena of how a landscape becomes legible to society. These images of distorted landscapes follow a similar narrative to the faces (and literally the same processing) – at first familiar and recognizeable, but gradually alien, cthulu-like, and abstract.

It encorporates both video and interactive facefilter components, and is currently installed as part of S'éclipse | Phases of Resilience as part of HTMlles Festival, in an exhibition realized by Lab NT2 in collaboration with the research group Archiver le présent and supported by the Canada Research Chair in Digital Art and Literature. With the participation of Cédric Anderson, Gina Cortopassi, Ludovic Doutre-Guay, Joanne Lalonde, Alexandra Martin & Lisa Tronca.

Becoming Illegible launches with many thanks to Max Bittker for his work on shaderbooth, an open source editing environment for writing and sharing face filter artworks.

Video still from Becoming Illegible (expanding) showing a woman's face that has been blown up until it becomes a flat circle, and a glacier image treated the same way. Video still from Becoming Illegible (spiraling) showing a woman's face that has been warped into a triangular shape, and a glacier beside it that is similarly warped. Video still from Becoming Illegible (sinking) - both the woman and the glacier appear to be melting Video still from Becoming Illegible (sinking) that shows both a woman's face and a glacier being pinched to one side A screenshot from the facefilter component of the Becoming Illegible project by Sarah Friend, a person is wearing a facefilter that replaces their face with an image of an iceberg