Faces in Motion: Embodiment, Emotion and Interaction

Together with Jan Klug and Bert Otten, I wrote an article about the (e)motion installation. It has been accepted for publication by Leonardo and you can read the preliminary version here.


We humans express what we think and feel by facial movements, often without even realizing this. In the installation (e)motion, the goal was to create awareness of even the most subtle movements of the face and create a space for interaction purely based on facial expressions. Facial movements were tracked by custom software and translated into motion vectors, which were visualized and coupled with sounds. Participants could interact by responding to each other’s facial movements. (e)motion was inspired by embodied cognition and scientific studies on emotion and action. The installation was the result of interdisciplinary collaboration between art, movement science, and cognitive neuroscience.

Video documentation



Participant interacting with (e)motion. The top row shows fairly small movements such as lifting the corner of the mouth (left) and opening and closing the eyes. The bottom row shows more global movement such as turning the whole head (left) and moving the mouth and eyes at the same time (middle and right). Video stills photographed by Barbara Nordhjem.




Left: Static images illustrating six basic emotions from Cohn-Kanade AU-Coded Facial Expression Database (with permission). Right: The movements of the six basic emotions based on dynamical classification.


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