Physiognomic Scrutinizer

Interactive installation (2009-2010) by Marnix de Nijs (NL).

Physiognomic Scrutinizer

Physiognomic Scrutinizer, photo by Jan Sprij

The design of the Physiognomic Scrutinizer is based on principles employed in security gates seen at airports, shopping malls, football stadiums and other protected public spaces. A barrier guides visitors towards a brightly lit entrance, where a mounted camera records each individual’s image and projects it on an LCD monitor at the back of the gate. A speaker on a stand, positioned immediately behind the gate, symbolizes and acts as a security guard. The installation scans facial features and characteristics by using biometric video analysis software, and compares them to those of more than 250 preselected people in a database. The database includes a variety of famous individuals and contributors to our contemporary culture, all chosen because of their controversial or infamous acts. A computerized voice publicly announces the name of the person each viewer has been identified as, in a confrontational reminder that the steady increase in the use of biometric technology in public space should be viewed with a healthy skepticism.

Physiognomic Scrutinizer can also be ordered as a customized version or in a multiple system. It is not restricted to the design, size or the materials as shown in the above image. For example the gate could also be presented in a site-specific design to fit to the architecture of a building or site.

Co-produced by Kontejner, bureau of contemporary art practice
Biometric software implementation, 
V2_Lab, Rotterdam
Process visualisation, 
Brecht Debackere, Antwerp
Thanks to
 Hans Beekmans


Interactive installation with custom hardware and software, speakers, stainless steel gate, and neon tube lights. 
Contact us for more information on pricing and for the technical requirements of the work.
Detailed information is available on installation, space requirements and shipping.




Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh (US), 27.04.2012-17.06.2012
Gogbot Festival, Enschede, 08.-11.09.2011
Paranoia tour:
EXIT Festival, MAC Creteil, Lille (FR), 10.03.2011-20.03.2011
VIA festival, Maubeuge - Mons (FR/BE), 24.03.–03.04.2011
Lille3000, Lille (FR), 13.04.-14.08.2011


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