What kind of information about yourself would you be willing to give up for free stuff? While your instinctive answer might be “none,” or “very little,” we make that choice everyday without thinking, using various social networks and OK-ing cookie notifications that pop up on your screen. Based on a similar concept, artist Matthias Dörfelt built Face Trade — an art vending machine that lets you pay with a picture of your face, permanently stored on the Etherium blockchain.
For what it’s worth, the art that pops out of the robot’s printer is both beautiful and horrifying, taking the form of a face, or something you might call a colorful mask with conflicting emotions. This emotional ambiguity is meant to signify how the blockchain, where snapshots that it gathers after the system is fully tested will be permanently stored, represents a wide spectrum of possibilities, both good and bad. Participants also receive a receipt for their facial transaction, pointing them to the aptly named itradedmyface.com. Here, anyone can see a list of “purchases,” and the low-resolution faces now stored in the blockchain.
Hardware used includes an Arduino that triggers the sequence via large yellow button, as well as an LCD screen and webcam. The application that runs the system is written in Python with the help of the OpenCV library. C++ code is used to process the images.