Theodore is an interactive installation capable to write sentimental letters
based only on image content. The main idea underlying this project is to find out if machines are able to understand feelings, context, and generate intimate and confidential letters that express human-like sentiments using only pictures as input. For this purpose, the open-source machine learning frameworks for the web ml5.js and face-api.js are used in the field of image recognition, in particular facial expression detection, landscape and landmarks recognition, as well as text generation.

The physical installation consists of a steel structure measuring 110 cm high, 30 cm wide, and 35 cm in depth. At the top of the structure is positioned a typewriter Olivetti Lettera 32, german edition. 32 12 volt solenoids are mounted on the front and back wall of the structure. These motors are connected to the typewriter by a metal wire rope that controls 32 keys on the typewriter, an extra solenoid is used to manage the carriage return level of the typewriter.

Although Theodore was conceived as an on-site installation, for the online version of the Piksel Festival, I will provide online visitors with a “Theodore goes back to digital” version that allows them to generate a digital version of the letter directly in their web browser.

Ivan Iovine