Onformative/Google Maps

Hey, is that soybean field looking at me?

Sometimes if you gaze into a verdant pasture, the verdant pasture gazes also into you. Angrily.

At least that's what it looks like in the above aerial shot of the "Jewish Autonomous Oblast" in far-east Russia. The cranky face peering out of the grass was spotted by the folks at Berlin's Onformative design studio. And they've found many more faces, too – because they've actually built a computer program that sifts through Google Maps with facial-recognition technology to find anthropomorphic features.

Why would they do this? The designers of "Google Faces" wax poetic about that:

The way we perceive our environment is a complex procedure. By the help of our vision we are able to recognize friends within a huge crowd, approximate the speed of an oncoming car or simply admire a painting. One of human’s most characteristic features is our desire to detect patterns. We use this ability to penetrate into the detailed secrets of nature. However we also tend to use this ability to enrich our imagination. Hence we recognize meaningful shapes in clouds or detect a great bear upon astrological observations.

Objective investigations and subjective imagination collide to one inseparable process. The tendency to detect meaning in vague visual stimuli is a psychological phenomenon called Pareidolia, and captures the core interest of this project.

Meaning, I think, that they simply found the task hilarious. Here are a few more mammoth land-mugs that their AI has located. From Denali National Park in Alaska comes this sunglasses-wearing bloke:

These cubist faces in the wilds of eastern Russia could've been painted by Picasso:

Wipe that stupid grin off your piehole, Sacha:

Onformative's made a video showing their program doing its things, although honestly I can't spot the faces in most of the landmarks it highlights:

(H/t to Creative Applications Network)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Presidio Terrace neighborhood

    The Problem of Progressive Cities and the Property Tax

    The news that a posh San Francisco street was sold for delinquent taxes exposes the deeper issue with America’s local revenue system.

  2. Times Square, 1970.

    The New York That Belonged to the City

    Hyper-gentrification turned renegade Manhattan into plasticine playground. Can the city find its soul again?

  3. POV

    Grenfell Was No Ordinary Accident

    The catastrophic fire that killed at least 80 in London was the inevitable byproduct of an ideology that vilified the poor.

  4. Snap Map is pictured on a phone.

    Snapchat's Foray Into the Future of Maps

    The app’s newest feature combines two major trends in modern cartography: mapping life in real time, and mapping subjective, emotional information.

  5. Environment

    The Politics of the Dog Park

    Dogs are children for a growing number of Americans—and that’s putting new pressures on pup-friendly space.