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OFF (Observation Failure Filter)

A 100x100 pixel section of a digital image is sufficient for reliable facial recognition. Equipped with artificial intelligence, cameras store biometric data, recognise patterns, assign the data and thus provide area-wide surveillance. OFF enables photos circulating on the Internet or uploaded by the user to be manipulated using various digital filters in such a way that they can no longer be decoded by facial recognition software. It is up to the users of OFF to decide to what extent they want to use the toolbox. The visual language developed has trend potential and offers incentives for individualisation while at the same time preserving privacy on the Internet.

The work OFF found its origin during an exchange semester in Hangzhou, China. At that time, the Social Credits System was introduced, and cameras were installed everywhere. Meret Fischli received information about the establishment of the new surveillance element from her relatives in Switzerland. Discussions with fellow Chinese students about this tightening resulted in uncertainty and frustration: nobody seemed to worry about this situation. The playful approach on which the tool is based critically questions the events in China.

Website and application were developed in collaboration with Fernando Obieta. Fernando Obieta is a freelance artist, freelance interaction designer & programmer, creative technologist at the Fotomuseum Winterthur and student in the MA Transdisciplinarity Studies at ZHdK. His critical designs and projects deal with the fusion and differentiation of digital and physical space and their effects on the individual and society.

OFF was developed as a bachelor thesis of the Specialisation in Visual Communication of Zurich University of the Arts and was awarded the Förderpreis 2019.

Meret Fischli
Fernando Obieta

Project Type:
BA diploma project Visual Communication



OFF (Observation Failure Filter)
OFF (Observation Failure Filter)
OFF (Observation Failure Filter)
© Meret Fischli. OFF. ZHdK.