Algae Twins (2019)

If we take the premise of our collective The Algae Society seriously, in what new ways do we consider algae as a companion species? Do we, like humans, find connections for the flimsiest of reasons? And are those reasons really flimsy when they work as entry points to deeper relationships?

Most of us have had the experience of forming a connection to somebody through a shared birthday. And although it is less common now, when I was growing up newspapers listed the names of celebrities who were born on the day of that newspaper. We knew there was absolutely no reason to feel a connection and yet we did. How else might those connections arise?

In this experiment, a database made from public domain images from the Anna Atkins algae collection is used to find visual matches to portraits of people. The proof of principle images below show a visual matching algorithm run on a database of 99 randomly selected algae species and the 8 founding living human members of The Algae Society.

A future iteration of the project will allow users to submit a photo of themselves via webcam, upload, Twitter or Instagram message, and find out their algae twin. They will also be shown any celebrities who share the same algae twin.