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Graphic design graduate students help paste the Inside Out art installation on Old Main plaza. The project consisted of 93 faces within the UA community to show the role of artificial intelligence in interpreting our emotions.

Graphic design graduate students help paste the Inside Out art installation on Old Main plaza. The project consisted of 93 faces within the UA community to show the role of artificial intelligence in interpreting our emotions.
The UA graphic design department recently collaborated with French artist JR through his Inside Out Project to create an art installation that graphic design graduate students placed for viewing on Old Main plaza from Sept. 15- 20.
The installation, which featured 93 portraits of UA students, faculty and staff taken over the summer, was intended to start a dialogue on what role artificial intelligence plays in interpreting our emotions, said Dr. Nadia Issa, a teaching assistant professor of graphic design. 
French artist JR, owner of the largest art gallery in the world, started the Inside Out Project to help individuals and communities make a statement by displaying large-scale black and white portraits in public spaces all over the world, according to the Inside Out website. This form of art has sparked many collaborations and conversations, including local projects. 
The FORMAT Festival in Bentonville also featured one of JR's art installations, although the larger-scale collaboration was with the UA graphic design team. The Inside Out studio compiled, edited and printed all the images and sent them back to the university for installation. 
Graduate students in Dr. Issa’s class were given the assignment to create an augmented reality version of the portraits that could be viewed through the app ArtVive. ArtVive pairs the image with the upload so viewers can scan the photo and see the movements in real time
“It was part of the philosophy of (the) course,” Dr. Issa said, “which is about checking how new technologies contribute to the process of storytelling, how they affect our social interactions and how they can play a role in things like public space.”
The students pasted the portraits to the plaza using biodegradable wheat paste — a process that took about three hours from start to finish. 
Jessica Gobble, a graduate student working on her master’s in design, was involved in the AR creation and art installation. 
The process included taking the static images and running each through facial animation software, which created micro-movements and expressions that could be made into loopable videos by inserting a couple images on top of the existing photo, Gobble said. The students were able to create movements such as blinking, smiling and looking from side to side. 
“The intention behind our intervention was to use technologies to raise important questions about the extent of AI and interference with human and social interaction as well as potential influence on human relationships,” Gobble said. “So our intervention was intended to explore the complexity of the human face and the risks that could emerge (from) AI interpreting our emotions.”
Donna Katherine Graham, director of industry and community engagement, acted as the liaison between the FORMAT Festival and UofA. 
The collaboration began when JR contacted Graham saying he enjoys doing installations on campuses. He mentioned he was interested in bringing the Inside Out Project to the UofA, Graham said. 
“I was just kind of the connector between the FORMAT Festival and the campus community letting them know that this opportunity was out there,” Graham said. “And then through working with the art department, I was able to connect with a faculty member who was interested in taking this on as a class project.”
Graham also took part in coming up with the title and special message for the project: Razorbacks Facing Forward, which emphasizes open conversation about different ideas and perspectives. 
“We know something that's really important for businesses to grow and thrive in Arkansas is for it to be a community where people want to live and work,” Graham said. “So having events like (this) come to campus was really great, just sort of from a place-making strategy (and) wanting to make Northwest Arkansas an exciting, cool, innovative place to live.”
The project encouraged Dr. Issa's students to explore new creative paths to broaden their understanding of tools that can be used to create a visual message beyond the conventional ones typically employed by designers, she said.
“It was a really great opportunity for us to get to work with such a renowned artist and to be a part of a much larger installation experience,” Gobble said, “because so much of the project is sharing your identity and perspective with the world. So being able to add our own identities and perspectives to that ever-growing list of installations (and) impacts is really incredible.”
Although the installation was ruined due to weather, photos and videos are posted on the Inside Out website, and the promotional video can be found on the UA graphic design’s Instagram page.
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