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Al Hirschfeld Machine

Supplies continuing demand for caricatures after Hirschfeld's death
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Celebrated caricaturist Al Hirshfeld has been at it for decades, to the point where I’m not sure what the New York Times’s Arts & Leisure section will do without him. He’s nearing 100 years of age, and there are only so many drawings left in him.

At the risk of proposing artificial intelligence, I suggest a device that will individually compare his hundreds of drawings with their subjects, gradually “learning” to extrapolate celebrities’ outstanding physical features into line drawings and rendering them in the style of Hirschfeld.

What makes Hirschfeld an interesting candidate for the inspiration for such a device is his style: the caricatures are composed solely of relatively simple line drawings. Perhaps there is a discoverable methodology that can be used to “translate” facial images, exaggerating their notable features, into elegant line drawings in the trademark Hirschfeld style.

snarfyguy, Aug 19 2001

Al Hirschfeld 1903-2003 http://story.news.y...t/obit_hirschfeld_3
[waugsqueke, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


thumbwax, Aug 19 2001

       Of course, NINA must be incorporated into each rendering for the sake of "authenticity." Thank you, thumbwax.
snarfyguy, Aug 19 2001

       But Hirschfeld does more than "[exaggerate]... notable features". He captures an essence, thus making his drawing both a caricature and recognizable. What you want is not an algorithm; you're asking for comprehension and artistry from a machine, nothing less than Artificial Intelligence. When you can make this machine, I suspect you'll have solved many other problems as well.
protean, Aug 19 2001

       Agreed, protean. It just seemed simpler than, say, a Picasso machine.
snarfyguy, Aug 19 2001

       Actually, a Picasso machine would be simpler.
thumbwax, Aug 19 2001

       thumbwax: I suggested picasso as a more complex subject for this idea because of the abstract and complex nature of (some of) his work. Perhaps Rembrandt would have been a more appropriate selection to convey a sense of ineffability.   

       It seems many orders of magnitude simpler to convert an image of a face into a line drawing than to translate an extremely delicate depiction of the effect of afternoon sunlight on an object into such a drawing.   

       Neverthless, this idea is clearly nothing more than the suggestion of the invention of artificial intelligence; protean is right. My bad, as they say.
snarfyguy, Aug 20 2001

       Research into computer vision and human perception has already produced programs which can draw caricatures of people. I suspect that a Hirschfeld expert system would be possible using existing technology --- it would produce a simple caricature, and allow a human operator to alter which features are exaggerated how much, to indicate character, while the program keeps the drawing in the trademark style.
wiml, Aug 20 2001

       Yay! Thanks, wiml.
snarfyguy, Aug 21 2001

       Bummer link, waugs, but appropriate.   

       FWIW, this is the idea that brought me to the bakery. It turned up when I was googling the origin of the "NINA" thing. So snarfy and thumb, its all your fault.
krelnik, Jan 20 2003

       Sorry, krelnik.
snarfyguy, Jan 21 2003


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