Skip to content

Mechanical Turk Automation with the Descriptive Camera

Discover how Amazon Mechanical Turk Automation changed how we see the world.

Matt Richardson's Descriptive Camera Project from 2012 is still an awesome idea. A little while after pressing the camera's button a little printer spits out a description like: "Looks like a cupboard which is ugly and old having name plates on it with a study lamp atteched to it." How it works? The piece of art sends a picture to an Amazon's Mechanical Turk service. Real people write the description send it back and the little printer does the rest of the work. Today this could be fully automated with image recognition AI. Personally I do like the real people aspect of the artwork.

It's a unique device that provides a creative and thought-provoking twist on traditional photography. Rather than capturing an image, the camera produces a written description of the scene it is pointed at.

The Descriptive Camera was developed by Richardson, a designer and creative technologist based in Brooklyn, New York. The camera uses a Raspberry Pi computer and a thermal printer to produce a written description of the scene captured by its lens.

To use the camera, the user simply points it at an object or scene and presses the shutter button. The camera then sends the image to a web service where it is analyzed by a computer program that generates a written description. The description is then printed out by the thermal printer and delivered to the user as a tangible object.

The camera's software uses a combination of algorithms and crowdsourcing to generate the written descriptions. The program first analyzes the image for basic features such as color and shape. It then uses crowdsourcing to generate a more detailed description by submitting the image to an online platform where users can contribute their own descriptions. The program then selects the best description and prints it out.

The Descriptive Camera has been featured in several art exhibitions and has garnered attention from media outlets around the world. It has been praised for its unique approach to photography and its ability to spark conversations about the nature of perception and the relationship between humans and technology.

However, the camera has also faced criticism for its reliance on crowdsourcing, which raises questions about the accuracy and bias of the descriptions generated. There are also concerns about the privacy implications of the camera's web-based analysis and storage of images.

Despite these concerns, the Descriptive Camera remains a fascinating and thought-provoking example of the intersection between art and technology. It challenges our assumptions about the nature of photography and invites us to consider the ways in which technology shapes our understanding of the world around us.


Electronic Artists Like Aphex Twin Use Programming and Patterns

How a Website's Fold Impacts Conversions, UX, and SEO