In 2004 the Architecture Foundation used the window displays at Selfridge’s department store in London to invite architects to speculate on a future vision for London. David Greene – co-curator of one of the displays and a member of the Archigram group – invited us to contribute to this exhibition as part of his ongoing LAWUN (Locally Available World Unseen Networks) Invisible University proposal, first initiated in 1970.
Facebreeder evolved through a belief in London as a machine. In opposition to the idea of the city as building, and the proposals by other contributors, we sought to construct a machine that would communicate and capture a sense of hybridised identity not through buildings or urban proposals but through collective portraiture. Facebreeder became an interactive machine that would process portraits of participants as part of an evolving database that would be displayed as a composite portrait through an interface constructed by a 3x3 grid of obsolete CRT screens. Each screen networked as part of a dynamic system that would autonomously call images from the database to be bred through the Facebreeder. Participation was facilitated through the development of a capture device that was installed as part of the exhibition. This device was developed as an instrument that was adjustable and in the process made accessible the participants’ contribution to the system. Participants would adjust the height of the capture device and place the instrument under their chin. Using a pressure sensor, the instrument would capture their image and archive it as part of the collective databank. Below the capture device a screen display acknowledged and displayed the captured image.
Facebreeder is an experiment in collective mirroring. Through the use of portraiture as a stimulus, participation and playful interactions were enabled through the simple display and auto-generative compositing of portraits. Participants exhibited varied magnitudes of anticipation and recognition with portions of images of their own identity. Their playful exchanges with the capture instrument were recorded through multiple captures, in the collective databank, all manifesting in a monstrous bred identity of what a future vision of London could be.
In collaboration with Vasilis Stroumpakos