The Race Code

The Race Code is an installation that comments on the growing atmosphere of racism in Finland and puts one in front of an interactive system where the interaction may cause discomfort or uneasiness.

The visitor enters the exhibition space where a large grid of portrait pictures of the previous visitors are displayed. The visitor can then enter a photo booth where they can have their picture taken. The software analyses the facial features of the person and compares those features to a certain ‘ideal face’. The picture is then added to the grid. The closer the facial features are to that ideal, the higher the picture is placed on the grid, arranging the visitors into ‘higher and lower races’.

The ‘ideal face’ is never revealed nor are the inner workings of the machine’s algorithm. The visitor is placed in front of a dilemma whether to surrender to the machine’s categorization and how to react to the absurdity of such a system even existing. Why do people want to be on the top of the ranking without even knowing what drives the system?

The original concept is by Timo Wright. Programming and visual design by me.

Title: The Race Code
Authors: Matti Niinimäki & Timo Wright
Year: 2012

Exhibitions

  • 2014 Stuttgarter Film Winter (GER)
  • 2014 Japan Media Arts Festival (JP) (as a documentation)
  • 2012 Mediafacades (FI)
  • 2012 Nuit Blanche Brussels (BEL)
  • 2012 Kluuvi Gallery (FI)