Aashish Gadini (left), image magician extraordinaire.
Aashish Gadani (left), image magician extraordinaire. Kelly O

Aashish Gadani of local video-art team Coldbrew Collective recently created a mosaic of 75,000 faces captured from videos of Boiler Room DJ sets. (Boiler Room is a music platform that webcasts DJ performances in various venues for an invitation-only crowd. The sets stream on YouTube, Dailymotion, and Boiler Room's site.) If you go to this page and keep magnifying, the Faces of Boiler Room gradually come into focus. At first, the image looks like a map of some alien world or an avant-garde shirt pattern; as the picture enlarges, the squares appear to be a computer's motherboard. Eventually, noticeable features emerge—and then you yearn to return to the original pixellated design. There are just way too many serious visages to process.

What inspired Gadani to make this thing?

"I've been looking at a lot of face-recognition data sets (an example would be Labeled Faces in the Wild, LFW) and was intrigued at the idea of making a really specific data set of just people who go to Boiler Room sets," he said in an email interview. "A lot of our face-recognition algorithms are trained on these huge data sets, so I was curious at the idea of building one that would maybe only recognize people who listen to a similar kind of music. I probably won't actually do that specific project, but now that I have all the faces, I have some other ideas. Some people are doing interesting work with neural nets to combine faces. so I think my next move with it will be to maybe generate a set of 'potential boiler room fans.'

"I also had a friend who was at the Boiler Room a while ago," Gadani continues, "and I was watching the live stream trying to find her which is what made me actually realize I could just scrape all the faces out. but I don't really intend to do anything that surveillance-oriented with it, haha."

How long did it take Gadani to create this impressive collage? "The image scraping was pretty quick. I think it took a few hours to get the code working. I went through like five different iterations for the site, trying to load all the images at once (disaster), trying to load them only when you scroll down (would slow down after like 500), and then a few better 'lazy loading' libraries before I settled on this thing called OpenSeadragon, which is used to display high-res images, so I put them all into one huge picture. As far as actual time, I don't know. I got the faces a few months ago and then just decided I should fix it up."

Did Gadani come to any conclusions about the typical Boiler Room attendee? "Oh, not really. It's pretty diverse, which is what I actually expected, I did find out that some water bottles will get recognized as faces though. Haha."

In other news, Gadani helped Bobby McHugh to shoot the video for Seattle band Crater's "Habits Die Slow," a song off their 2016 debut album, Talk to Me So I Can Fall Asleep.