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Science has revealed a multitude of ways evolution has shaped the processing of visual information within the animal kingdom. What we see as human beings varies significantly from the world insects, reptiles, and even other mammals experience. But what would an artificial intelligence see? Italian design studio Ultravioletto set out to answer this very question, outfitting an AI-equipped OLED mirror with facial recognition software to render an abstracted model of what we might look like through the eyes of a machine.

Set within the former Church of Santa Maria della Manna d’Oro in Spoleto for the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, design studio Ultravioletto’s Neural Mirror installation operates as a technological and visual dialogue between human beings and an artificial intelligence programmed to interpret visual indicators of a person’s features, sex, age, race, and even decode their emotional state, to reflect an interpretive effigy represented with dimensional pointillist clouds of color chosen by the A.I.

The Neural Mirrors portrays the physical body into an abstract flow of data in real time by the AI.

Neural Mirror is an interactive installation in which Artificial Intelligence is the protagonist: A mirroring sentient interface that perceives, interprets and elaborates the image of the observer.

– Ultravioletto

The Neural Mirror is partnered with a printer dedicated to converting facial recognition data into strings of JSON code, converting the person into “a river of printed paper”.

Collected physical and emotional analysis data is eventually combined by the artificial intelligence system to be sent to an ad-hoc plotter printer – a “computerized amanuenses” – to generate an alter ego of pure data unrolled as a final reflection of self.

Ultravioletto has explored similar themes of artificial intelligence aided projects, including portraiture drawing machines and art made with code, each pushing the boundaries of technology in service of design.

Photos: SPOLETO 2019

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at