Posted by Abe Sauer on September 30, 2010 11:00 AM
By its own definition, the "Unlogo" project is "a web service that eliminates logos and other corporate signage from videos. On a practical level, it takes back your personal media from the corporations and advertisers. On a technical level, it is a really cool combination of some brand new OpenCV and FFMPEG functionality. On a poetic level, it is a tool for focusing on what is important in the record of your life rather than the ubiquitous messages that advertisers want you to focus on."
It was all started by a guy (Jeff Crouse) who was being paid, no doubt handsomely, to train a computer to recognize brands and logos. Now he's decided to turn that technology around, and to search and destroy logos.
The "corporate identity media filter," which is still in its early stages and raising funds on Kickstarter, is aimed at social media savvy digerati who want to edit their long tail footprint online (if not their actions and embarrassing photos, at least, for reasons we're still not clear on, de-brand it): "In short, Unlogo gives people the opportunity to opt out of having corporate messages permanently imprinted into the photographic record of their lives."
Naturally, this raises the question of how corporations and advertisers are "taking" anyone's personal media. Unlogo demonstrates how corporate logos are "taking" your personal media by shooting video in a shopping mall. Yes, a mall; one of those "places of poetry" that — but for the corporate logos and "ubiquitous messages that advertisers want you to focus on" — would be cultural centers for society.
Of course, the technology developed by Unlogo to find and remove pre-identified images has serious malevolent applications that the twee righteous probably never intend, but may be inevitable. Some of this recognition technology already exists and is used in security applications, the kind that are so often lambasted by such artists as "fascist."
Maybe we're being a little harsh and defensive. But one wonders if the technology will be used to "unlogify" the Apple Macbook in the project's explanation video. Or the Twitter, Facebook, and Google link logos on its homepage?
More importantly, will it scrub the logo of Datagram, one of the corproate supporters of Eyebeam, which sponsors Unlogo? Or Gawker, whose founder Nick Denton is one of many brand-building sponsors whose donations make Unlogo possible?