Reflected gaze: How an AI poet sees your emotional self

An interactive AI mirror, designed by Faculty of IT and SensiLab researchers, is bringing participants into the artwork as part of this year’s digital Open Day experience at Monash University (Saturday 29 August – Monday 31 August).

Mirror Ritual is an AI-based affective interface that perceives human emotions in real-time to produce unique poetry based on a viewer’s facial cues.

Designed and developed by SensiLab PhD candidate, Nina Rajcic, Mirror Ritual offers a creative application of AI technology – one where the viewer becomes the co-author of their own narrative.

This deeper and more personal dialogue between human and machine encourages a positive interaction with AI-based emotion recognition technologies, she said.

“The work employs common emotion recognition technology, however rather than making prescriptive claims, the interface allows for the open-ended interpretation of one's own internal emotional state," Ms Rajcic said.

As part of this year’s digital Open Day experience, participants will have the opportunity to experience the Mirror Ritual online as part of the Faculty of Information Technology’s virtual booth.

Using the participant’s web camera, facial detection software analyses a person’s facial expression and then categorises the perceived expression into one of seven emotion categories. The artificial neural network within the software is capable of modeling and learning non-linear relationships from training data (such as facial expressions and classified emotions) and applying it to new data (a face that it hasn't been exposed to before).

The detected emotion is then used as input to an AI-based language generation model, which outputs a unique poem. As the viewer stares into their mirror image, the text gently fades onto the screen.

“The mirror is designed to facilitate emotional awareness and regulation in viewers by encouraging self-reflective thought, while aiming to educate and, ultimately, to liberate viewers from the idea that emotions are fixed, well-defined categories that happen to you,” Ms Rajcic said.

Instead, emotions can be reframed and moulded through reflective thought. Mirror Ritual uses open-ended poetry to encourage viewers to make sense of their emotional and personal experiences.

“The mirror also debunks the outdated view that there are a limited number of emotional states. Rather than basing our emotions on a set of basic, innate and universal emotional categories, the mirror promotes the viewer to engage in the co-construction of their emotion through the machine-generated poem,” added, Professor Jon McCormack, Director of SensiLab.

Find your inner poem with Mirror Ritual during the Monash University’s virtual Open Day experience which kicks off on Saturday 29 August.