New Media Exhibition: Iterations as Habitats


Computers Watching Movies

Computers Watching Movies

2013 | Ben Grosser


Computers Watching Movies visualizes what a computational system “sees” were it to screen iconic scenes from the popular Hollywood hits 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Taxi Driver (1976), Annie Hall (1977), The Matrix (1999), American Beauty (1999), and Inception (2010).

Grosser’s original software combines computer vision algorithms and artificial intelligence routines that allow the computer a degree of agency in determining which clips it would like to screen.

The project produces a series of temporal sketches, which are presented with the audio from the original clip, prompting viewers to reflect upon their own screening process of selecting and recombining details from visual images in ways that are personally and socially meaningful.

Ghost images of Hollywood conventions in framing shots also emerge under the sound of highly orchestrated musical scores and contrived dialogue. In short, the machine act of looking becomes an occasion for us to reflect upon the human/animal act of looking.


Ben Grosser (United States) focuses on the cultural, social, and political implications of software. Recent exhibition venues include Eyebeam in New York, The White Building in London, and Museum Ludwig in Cologne. His projects have been featured in Wired, The Atlantic, and The Guardian. The Chicago Tribune called him the “unrivaled king of ominous gibberish.” Slate referred to his work as “creative civil disobedience in the digital age.” Grosser’s recent recognitions include First Prize in VIDA 16. Grosser’s ScareMail was featured in FLEFF’s Viral Dissonance exhibit.