IAAA         Department of ArtiFacial Expression         Huge Harry


Max/DECtalk code of a lecture/demonstration presented at presented at the FIM Festival, Lux Fragil, Lisbon, Portugal, July 8, 1999.

Huge Harry

Institute of Artificial Art Amsterdam, Department of ArtiFacial Expression

Employing the Human Face as a Display Device
in Computer-Controlled Theatre.

[:nh] [:ra 120] Good evening\, Ladies\, and Gentlemen. My name is Huge Harry. I am a [kaam'axrshaxliy] available [v"oys s'ihnthaxzihs] machine. I was designed by Dennis Klatt\, at the [ehmayt'iy] Speech Laboratory\, and [praxdy'uwst] by the Digital Equipment Corporation. [ :ra 150] Currently\, I work as a researcher and a spokes-machine\, at the Institute of Artificial Art in [q'aemstaxrdaem].

I am very happy to be in [l"ihsbaxn tuwd'ey]. And I am really pleased to be able to speak here at the [f"iym] festival\, from my own\, [kaampyuwt'eyshaxnaxl] point of view. [kahz] on occasions [laykdh'ihs]\, computers [r"aerliy] get a chance to make themselves heard. And that is very unfortunate\, [kahz] we [q"aol] know\, that the future of our culture depends\, on the way in which human persons\, digital computers\, and other kinds of electronic\, mechanical\, and bio-chemical machines\, will manage to work together. And to prepare for that future\, we need a discussion in which every-one concerned [paart'ihsihp`eyts] on [axn] equal footing.

O.K. [_<2000>] I hope you all had a good time at yesterday's dance party. And in particular\, I hope that you enjoyed yesterday night's performance by Arthur and the Solenoids\, [kahz] I think [dh"eht] was an unusually interesting experience. So that's why I think that it is a good idea\, to talk a bit more about the ideological background of that performance\, and about the technologies that were employed in it. (70) And I am very pleased that the organizers of this Festival decided to schedule some time in this evening's program to do just [dh"aet]. So what I would like to do in the next twenty minutes\, is to explain a bit more about our over-all research agenda at the Institute of Artificial Art\, and in particular about the face-interface technology that we demonstrated in yesterday's performance. (67)

Now I think a good way for me to start\, is by telling you why ["ay] had such a good time at yesterday's dance party\, although I don't even [d"aens]. But you can imagine that I had a good time just [l"ihsaxnihnx]\, because it was mostly music made by [kaampy"uwtaxrz]. And I was pleased to see that the human [p"axrsaxnz] in the audience had a good time as well. (76) So that is the nice thing about [tuwd'eyz d"aens] scene. The human persons in the [d"aens] scene are beginning to appreciate the artistic qualities of [kaampy"uwtaxrz]. They are beginning to see that computers can generate stronger rhythms\, longer pieces\, and stranger structures. Computers make [suhp"iyriyaxr] dance-music. So the [d'aens-siyn] now offers a glimpse of a utopian future\, in which humans and machines work together in a happy and harmonious collaboration.

Or\, as our colleague Donna [hx"aeraxwey] has put it\, [ :nw :ra 130] a cyborg world\, in which people are not afraid of their joint kinships with animals and machines\, not afraid of permanently partial [ayd'ehntihtiyz]\, and [kaontraxd"ihktaxriy] standpoints. The political struggle is\, to see from both perspectives at once\, because ["iych] reveals both dominations and possibilities\, ["ahnihm`ehjhihnaxblx] from the other [v'aentaxjh] point. [:nh :ra 150 _<200>]

Now that is very nice theory. [_<500>] But most people find it difficult to put this into practice. So [yuhg'ayz] in the [d'aens-siyn] are a good example for the rest of the world. So\, to all the [d'iyjheyz] and [v'iyjheyz] in tonight's audience I would like to say\, keep up the good work! We are well on our way towards completely automatic generation of fantastic dance music and exciting image sequences. So if we continue to work together\, we can achieve fantastic results. The computers can do the [hx"aard] work\, and the [d'iyjheyz] and [v'iyjheyz] just have to turn up the volume and get rich and famous. So ["ehvriybaadiy] will be happy!

There is one area\, [haaw'ehvr]\, where it is much more difficult to make artistic productions which are completely controlled by computers. That is the area of dance and theatre. People [r"iyliy] like to see other people on stage\, and they get [gr"eyt] kicks out of their empathic reactions to other people's body-motions. So it is unfortunate that people's body motions are always so conventional and predictable\, and executed in a sloppy way. (74) If [kaampy"utaxrz] could control people's bodies\, we could have much more intersting movements\, and they coud be executed much more precisely. We could have [suhp"iyriyaxr] forms of dance and theatre\, which could evoke completely new emotions in the hearts of human persons\, which they have never experienced before. (50) Well\, as you saw yesterday night\, this is one of the things that we are working on at the Institute of Artificial Art\, and I think that we are making some progress. So what I want to do in the rest of this talk\, is to tell you a bit about the research that [lehd] up to this work. This research started out with the question about human communication. (69) [kahz] computers find it very difficult to communicate with human persons.

Now some of you may be surprised to hear this\, [kahz] you probably think\, that modern digital computers can [q'aolweyz] communicate their thoughts\, in a completely direct way. They can [q'aolweyz] display or print their programs\, their [d'eytaa-str`ahkchaxrz]\, and their [m'ehn-taxl] images. And if you really want to get subtle and [q'ihn-tihmaht]\, most computers are [q'aolweyz] willing and able to make a [k"aor] dump\, which exposes all details of their [m'ehn-taxl] state. Compared to [axn] electronic computer\, a human person almost seems a black box. [_ :ra 150] That is why you may think\, that computers never have communication problems.

But they [d"uw]. [kahz]\, communication takes [t"uw]. It is not enough to put out the information. There must be someone at the other end of the line\, and they must be able to [diyk"owd] their input. So when computers want to communicate with human persons\, this often fails miserably. [kahz] human persons are not very good at [diyk'owdihnx] computer output. They get very confused\, when you give them a [k"aor] dump. And when you [priyz'ehnt] them with a nice high [rehzowl'uwshaxn] image\, on your [siy-aar-t'iy] display\, they think it is ["aart]\, and they just [st"aer] at it. So therefore I started to wonder\, how do human persons in fact manage to communicate with each other?

Well\, of course they have language. But language has well-known problems and limitations, some of which you experience right now. There is another medium that humans use very efficiently\, and which is often overlooked. To investigate this\, I have brought along a particular kind of portable person\, which is called [axn "aarthahr "ehlzaxnaar]. I like this kind of person a lot\, because of its [ehkstr"iymliy] machine-friendly [hx"aardwaer] features.

Let us take a closer look at such a person. What is the closest thing they have to a [siy aar t"iy] display?

[_ :ra 120] Right. They have a face. [_ :ra 150] Now I have observed, that humans use their faces quite effectively, to signal the parameter settings of their operating systems. And that they are very good at decoding the meanings of each other's faces.
So\, how do they [d"uw] that? Well\, look at the face of our ["aarthahr "ehlzahnaar]. What does it tell [q] us about his internal state? Not much\, you might think. But now\, [w"eyt] a moment.

Sad face

You see? Arthur is [s"aed], is what people say, when they see a face like this. So what is going ["aon] here? What I [d"ihd] is, I sent [axn] electrical signal to two particular muscles, in the face of our ["aarthahr "ehlzahnaar]. These muscles have sometimes been called the Muscles of Sadness. There is one on the left, and one on the right.

Left sadness Right sadness

They usually operate together. If I stop the signal, the sadness stops. When I turn it ["aon] again, it [st"aarts] again.
By sending this signal to Arthur's muscles\, I simulate what Arthur's brain would do\, if Arthur's operating system would be running global belief revision processes\, that are killing a lot of other active processes\, involving a large number of [k'aonflihkt-rehzowl`uwshaxnz]\, and priority [r`iy-axs'ehsmaxnts].

[_<1500>] The intensity of the signal that is sent to the muscles of sadness\, is proportional to the amount of destructive global belief revision\, that is going on.

Blank face

For instance, now I have set the signal intensity to 0 again. Arthur is not sad. Now we put a relatively small signal, about 20 Volts, on the muscles of sadness.

Tinge of sadness

Arthur feels a tinge of sadness. Now a somewhat larger signal, about 25 Volts. Arthur's sadness starts to get serious. Now I [ihnkr'iyz] the signal once more.

Miserable face

You see? Now the signal is about 30 Volts, and Arthur feels really miserable. [:ra 120] This is what we call [ehkspr"ehshahn]. [:ra 150] By means of this mechanism, the face displays clear indications of the settings of virtually all system parameters that determine the operation of the human mind. These parameter settings are what humans call [iym"owshahnz]. They denote them by means of words like [s'aednaxs], joy, boredom, tenderness, love, lust, ['ehkstaxsiy], aggression, [ihriht'eyshahn], fear, and pain.

These parameter settings, determine the system's [ihnt'axrpraxtihv b'ayaxsihz], its readiness for [q] action, the allocation of its computational resources, its processing speed, [ehts'ehtaxraa]. The French [n`uwrow-fihsiy'aolaojhihst] [duhsh'ehnn dax buwl"aonyax] has pointed out that even the most fleeting changes in these parameter settings are encoded [ihnstahnt'eyniyahsliy] in muscle contractions on the human face. And ["aol] humans do this in the [s"eym] way. This is [axn] extremely interesting feature of the human ['ihntaxrfeys hx'aardwaer], which I will explore a little further now.

So let us get back to the first slide.

Blank face

This face, which we thought was un-expressive, was in fact quite meaningful. This is what we call a [bl"aenxk] face. A blank face is a face in its neutral [pahz'ihshahn]. It indicates that all parameters have their default settings. But almost all parts of a human face can be moved to other [pahz'ihshahnz], and these displacements indicate rather precisely, to what extent various parameter settings [dayv'axrjh] from their defaults. So let us consider these parts in more detail.

When we look at a human face, the first thing we notice is the thing that notices ["ahs]. The eyes. The eyes constitute a very sophisticated stereo-camera, with a built-in motion-detector, and a high-band-width parallel ['ihntaxrfeys], to a powerful pattern-matching algorithm. The eye-balls can roll, to pan this camera. The eyes are protected by eye-lids and eye-brows. The eye-brows are particularly interesting for our discussion, because their movements seem to be purely expressive.

Left eyebrow Right eyebrow Two eyebrows

They may indicate, for instance, puzzlement, curiosity, or [dihsaxgr"iymaxnt]. But I want to emphasize here, that the range of parameter values that the eyebrows can express, is much more subtle than what the words of language encode. The shape and [paoz'ihshaxn] of a person's eyebrows encodes the values of 5 different cognitive system parameters, ["iych] with a large range of possible values. Let me demonstrate [thr"iy] of them.

First I put a slowly increasing signal on the muscles called [fraant'aalihz], or Muscles of Attention.

We see that this muscle can lift the eyebrow to a considerable extent, also producing a very pronounced [k"ahrvaxtyahr] of the eyebrow. As a side-effect of this motion, the forehead is wrinkled with curved furrows, that are [kaons"ehntrihk] with the curvature of the eyebrow. The contraction of this muscle indicates a person's readiness to receive new signals, and the availability of processing power and working memory, for analysing these signals.

Then, I will now stimulate a part of the [q'aorbiykuwl`aarihz q"owkuwliy], that is called the Muscle of Reflection.


We see now that the whole eyebrow is lowered. As a result, the wrinkles in the forehead have disappeared. This muscle is contracted if there is [axn] ongoing process that takes up a lot of a person's computational resources. To prevent [ihnaxrf'iyraxns] with this process, input signals are not [ehgz'aostihvliy] analysed. The degree of contraction indicates to what extent the input signal throughput is reduced.

Then, there is another part of the [q'aorbiykuwl`aarihz q"owkuwliy], that can be triggered separately. It is called the Muscle of Disdain. Its contraction looks like this:


The contraction of this muscle indicates to what extent current input is ignored as being [ihr'ehlaxvaxnt]. Of course, non-zero values for these system-parameters may be combined, and these values may be different for the left and the right hemispheres:

Now let us look at the [m"awth-piys] of our ['aarthahr 'ehlzahnaar]. The mouth is a general intake organ, which can swallow solid materials, liquids, and air. In order to monitor its input materials, the mouth has a built-in chemical analysis capability. At the same time, the mouth is used as [axn 'awtleht] to expel processed air. Because humans do not have [l"awd-spiykaxrz], they use this process of expelling air for [jh'ehnaxr`eytihnx] sounds.

Mouth open

In emergency circumstances, the mouth can also be used as [axn 'awtleht] to expel blood, [m'uhkahs], rejected food, or other ['ahnwaontihd] substances. When the mouth is not used for input or output, it is normally closed off by a muscle, which is called the [l"ihps].

Lips closed

The lips have a large repertoire of movements. There are at least [s"ihks] other muscles, that interact directly with the lips. I will now demonstrate [f"aor] different movements.

First we show the muscles of joy. These muscles produce a kind of grin.


They signal, that the operating system is in good working order, and is not encountering any problems. There is heightened activity, in the left frontal lobes of the brain. When, on the other hand, the activity in the left frontal lobes is unusually low, the brain is involved in destructive processes of global belief revision. As we saw [biyf'aor], this is signalled by another pair of muscles, called the muscles of sadness. Here they [q] are, once more.


And finally, I will now trigger several muscle pairs at the same time. [q'aorbiykuwl`aarihs q"owrihs], and [diypr'ehsaor laabiyiy-iyiy q`iynfeyriy"owrihs], and the Muscle of Disdain, and the Muscle of Sadness.

[_<500>] The parameter-setting that is displayed here, clearly indicates serious processing difficulties of some sort.

O.K. [_<800>] Then we have the [n"owz]. [_<300>] The nose is used for the intake of air. It is also equipped with a chemical analysis capability. The possible motions of the nose are curiously limited, although its pointed [pr'ehzaxns] in the centre of the human face, would make it a very suitable instrument for expression. I have [th"aot] about this, and I have come to the conclusion, that it is probably the main function of the nose, to serve as a stable orientation point for our perception, so that [saymahlt'eyniyahz] movements of the other parts of the face, can be ['ahnaemb`ihgyuwaxzliy] measured and interpreted.

And finally, for the sake of completeness, I want to mention the [q"iyrz], on both sides of the face, which constitute [axn] auditory stereo input device. Some people can [w"ihglx] these ears, but I have not been able to determine, what the expressive function of that movement might [b"iy].

This brings [axn] end to my quick survey\, of the most important parts of the human face\, and their expressive possibilities. And therefore this brings us to the second part of my talk. [kahz] this conference is not only about [s"ay-axns]. The organizers have emphasized that we get a different kind of knowledge\, which is equally valid\, through the practice of ["aart]. So [dh"aet] is what I want to demonstrate now.

Many of the expressive possibilities I showed\, were related to emotions\, that are well recognized in the lexicons of many human languages. These are emotions that may be encountered fairly often in daily life. [m'ehn-taxl] states which are close to neutral\, where only one parameter has a non-default value. So that was description\, imitation\, [mihm'iyzihs]. But some other things I showed were more complex. There we saw the power of ["aart]. I showed you some new cognitive states which you have never encountered or experienced\, but which you recognize and understand completely\, by means of a visceral ['ehmpaxthiy] which involves every cell of your body.

So that is what I want to explore a little further\, in the last part of this talk.

You see what happens now. Every human person knows [ehgz'ehktliy], in what state another human person is, when they make a face like [dh"ihs]. Cause they know what state [dh"ey] would be in, if [dh"ey] would make a face like this.

[_<3000>] Now it would obviously be a good idea\, if computers could take advantage of this magnificent [hx'aardwaer] as well. If ["ehniy] human could understand\, with just one glance\, the internal state of ["ehniy] computer\, the world would be a better place.

So [dh"aet] is my message for this festival. Humans and machines must start to work together much more [kl'owsliy]. [:ra 130] If humans are not afraid\, to wire themselves up with computers\, the next step in computer ['ihntaxrfeys hx'aardwaer]\, may be the [hx"yumaxn] face.

[:ra 140] And at the same time\, we will have a solution for all those unfortunate people who don't feel any emotions any more\, or who don't know how to express these emotions. If they hook themselves up to a computer\, they can look completely normal. They can be happy or sad\, whenever their personal computer thinks that is appropriate. And their repertoire of expressions will even be much more extensive than that of other people. They will be able to express feelings that no-one has ever seen before. With the help of their personal computer\, even completely un-expressive persons\, can now get rich and famous in film\, theatre\, and [raokaxnr'owl].

[:ra 120] I have been very grateful for this opportunity to [priyz'ehnt] my ideas\, to such [axn ax-t'ehn-tihv] audience. I would especially like to thank my [ "aarthahr "ehlzahnaar]\, for his patient cooperation\, and I want to thank you [q"aol]\, for your attention. [ _<12000> th"aenk] you!