Blushing Mona Lisa

Exhibited Phoenix Brighton 29th October 2011. A night of exhibition, performance, intervention, screening, music and contemplation. Created by Tom Keene and Kypros Kyprianou.

Photophone parts

Blushing Mona Lisa is a reworking of the most looked at portrait in the world. The longer one looks directly at her, the deeper she blushes. Alongside the admittedly cheap reproduction of the portrait hangs an updating explanatory text. Auto-generative software forms a new description and authority over the meaning of the work by combining visitor comments seeded with articles discussing the impact of the Mona Lisa.

With its famous ‘enigmatic smile’, the Mona Lisa became more famous as an object when it was stolen. Despite the disappearance of the object itself people flocked to gaze at the empty space, the lack of the gaze of the art object turned into an event in which the spectators themselves became the spectacle, the museum experience shifts, reversing the gaze onto the viewer. No wonder she’s blushing.

The build

Face recognition software counts the number of faces looking at the potrait and adjusts the glow of a red LED behind Mona’s cheeks depending on how long people look at her.

Commissioned as part of “Like Shadows: A Celebration of Shyness”

Supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, as part of Supporting Shy Users in Pervasive Computing project, undertaken by the departments of Informatics and Sociology at The University of Sussex and by Brighton and Hove City Council. Curated by Helen Sloan.