Saving Face


KAREN LANCEL AND HERMEN MAAT (Based in the Netherlands)

Touching is the new Scanning. The artists deconstruct and turn around control technologies and sensory perception to facilitate intimate meeting experiences: "Saving Face is an experimental technological bio-feedback system for a poetic 'meeting-through-touching ritual'. With the help of a personal 'Touching Face Scan', participants caress their own faces, to connect online with family, friends and strangers worldwide. They become tangible and visible for each other in a relational process, a 'social sculpture' in which we invite them to endlessly meet, caress, mirror and merge."

Your face as a tangible social interface. The 'Smart City Meeting Ritual' includes an interactive city sculpture with a camera connected to an urban screen. In front of the camera and face-recognition technologies, you are invited to caress your face. By caressing your face you 'paint' your portrait on the screen, where it appears and then slowly merges with the portraits of previous visitors. The portraits merge further through every face-caressing act of following participants, co-creating transparent, untraceable, fluid, networked identities. Each composed identity is saved into a user generated database, to be printed as a Saving Face Passport.

Saving Face is the finissage event at the Chinese Pavillion during the Venice Biennale 2015.

Artist biography

Artists Lancel and Maat create meeting places in city public spaces and the digital domain. Their seductive visual performances and installations include objects, video, prints, drawings, networked databases, projections and digital networks. Audience members are invited in 'artistic social labs' as 'co-researchers' to experiment and play. In carefully designed and hosted meeting rituals they reflect on their perception of the smart city, and their experience of body, presence, identity, privacy, trust. In their art works the artists research contemporary social systems, poetically combining deconstructed communication technologies with experimental syntheses of sensory perception. Audience participation is translated into ‘social portraits of living in a networked society’.


Photographs: 1. © Karen Lancel & Hermen Maat; 2. & 3. © Ruthe Zuntz



18.-22.11.2015 VENICE @ China Pavillion at Venice Biennale

Finissage: 21 November 2015 // 4pm