“… turning traditional methods of filmmaking upside down, Coupe takes an algorithmic approach to cinema and, in doing so, transforms reality into narrative.”
Surveillance Suite is a series of video installations that use a network of video cameras running computer vision algorithms to “profile” people according to their age, gender, race, facial expressions and spatial locations. People are cast into short narrative films based upon who they are and what they do, in the process exploring our paradoxical relationship with surveillance and exhibitionism.
The project received a 2009 Creative Capital award, with Part One built during a residency at Lanternhouse (Ulverston, UK) and Folly (Lancaster, UK). Whereas normally films are made by writing a script, and then shooting footage to match the script, in Surveillance Suite this process is reversed. Stories are automatically constructed from whatever video footage the installation has available. New footage is shot each day, and as a result the stories mutate, with new characters, locations and plot lines revealing themselves.
The Surveillance Suite films are automatically generated each day, via an array of custom-built computer software. All available video footage is analyzed using computer vision software that can detect people and profile them according to age, gender, race, facial expression and location. This operates as an autonomous “casting” system that seeks out narrative possibilities from random video footage. Working with scriptwriter Kate Pullinger loose storylines were fed into the software so that it could be organized according to simple artificial intelligence rules. The result is a series of films that reorganize Ulverston and its inhabitants, reimagining peoples’ everyday lives as interlocking narratives.