Friday, June 24, 2011

Is seeing believing?

Let's see if you can successfully guess the nature of an individual by simply examining a portrait.

Don't click this photo yet. Wait until I've provided a few trivial explanations. I'll let you know when you should click the photo. This woman's name is Aude Oliva. Try to guess what sort of a person she is. For example, what sort of work might Aude do to earn her living?

Now, look closely at the following picture:

As you can see, Aude Oliva actually created this artwork. (Don't jump to the conclusion, though, that Aude is simply a talented graphic artist with Photoshop experience.) Most viewers will agree, I would imagine, that it seems to be a portrait of Albert Einstein. OK? Now, leave this Einstein photo sitting on your computer screen, get up from your chair, and move back about a meter from your computer screen. Does the portrait still appear to be that of Einstein?

If you click on the portrait of Aude Oliva, you'll find her professional titles: Associate Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a Principal Investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And you'll be able to find details about the spectacular so-called hybrid images that she creates.

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