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MW20 Artificial Intelligence in the service of creative storytelling
in the service
of creative storytelling
A digital installation at the Warsaw Rising Museum
Piotr Burdyło / Superskrypt
Emilka Bojańczyk / Superskrypt
Anna Grzechnik / The Warsaw Rising Museum
Museums show a small percentage of their
collections to visitors.
Digitising the vast archives is only the ﬁrst
step towards showing them to the public.
If not provided with a narrative, they will
remain indigestible—a sad case in point
of museum “multimedia”.
Superskrypt is a digital creative agency.
We work with museums and help them use
technology in viewer-friendly ways.
The Warsaw Rising Museum is one of the top
storytelling Museums in Poland. It commemorates
the event of the 1944’ Warsaw Rising during WWII.
Young people are the main target and recipient of
We would like to share our recent work
—“Reﬂection. I am like you, surely”—a multimedia
exhibition opened at the Warsaw Rising Museum
in August 2019.
“Reﬂection” is an exhibition centred around
two interactive mirror totems.
The totems serve as magical windows to
Viewers see their reﬂection in the mirror
transformed into the face of an insurgent
that resembles them.
In the interaction, the installation makes a photo of
a visitor with a hidden camera.The photo is
analyzed to detect the visitor's face.
Part of the photo with the visitor’s face is sent to
an artiﬁcial intelligence module that analyses a
database of almost 1000 archival photos of
insurgents.The algorithm chooses the most
C O M P U T E R
D A T A B A S E
A I M O D U L E
C A M E R A
P R O X I M I T Y S E N S O R
detects approaching visitor
estimates visitors height
Image of insurgent displayed
Fallback images in case of network failure
The interface is designed to match the position of the
viewer’s face in the mirror.
The algorithm approximates the height of the viewer
based on data from a proximity sensor and from the
An outline of a face is displayed at this calculated height,
prompting the viewer to adjust his position to ﬁt the oval
as closely as possible.
This interaction allows us to present the image of the
insurgent in place of the viewers’ reﬂection.
The user sees her face transformed into the face of an
insurgent in the ﬁnal, culminating moment.This illusion of
an interactive, magical mirror to the past creates a bond
between the user and the insurgent.
Visitors are also provided with a link to the photo of his
“twin” on-line. They can access and download the image
at a later date.
Privacy concerns were paramount while creating the
installation.The objective was to clearly inform visitors
about what data will be collected and what will and what
will not happen with the data later.
In order not to spoil the magical process of ﬁnding the
visitor’s twin by too much legal information crammed
inside the main interface, notices were installed on the
walls leading up to the mirror.They are visible before
scanning the face in the mirrors.
All the biometric data are deleted after being processed
and are not collected for marketing use nor handed over
to third parties.
Legal notice at the exhibition:
READ BEFORE YOU APPROACH THE INSTALLATION.
The interactive mirror will scan your facial
features to ﬁnd your double among archive
By approaching the mirror and scanning your
face, you grant your consent for short-term
processing of your personal data. Detailed
information is available at www.1944.pl
Legal notice on the website:
Your personal data will not be made available to
Your personal data will be stored only for as long
as it is necessary to match your face with the
image of a person stored in the archive collection
that serves as the database for the application
you are about to launch.Your personal data will
be processed for 2–3 seconds and no scanned
image is saved on any media.
Artiﬁcial intelligence can be employed not
only to track users and collect and analyse
Our installation shows that it can be helpful in
serving exhibits that are meaningful to the
viewer. In this way, technology is an extension
of the curator, enabling him or her to process
vast archives and pick the works that relate to
the person viewing them.
The Museum has approximately 350 000 visitors a year.
Data from the installation’s server point to about 30 000 requests
for an image monthly.While some visitors scan their face more than
once, this data points to a majority of the Museum’s visitors using
The installation is heavily used by visitors, who are often even willing
to wait for a few minutes to for their turn at the mirror.There are two
totems within the installation—this helps to avoid queues.
Many visitors have strong emotional reactions when they see their “twin”. People are
almost shocked, surprised at the accuracy of their physical resemblance to the Insurgent.
The few seconds of waiting for the twin face to appear in the mirror and the
accompanying animation bring up expectations to the highest level possible. People burst
laughing, burst into tears, often with comments such as “He looks totally like you! /
He looks like your dad / grandpa.”
Most reactions—90% or so—were deeply positive. Negative ones happen when the
person in front of the mirror is unhappy about the resemblance outcome.
For the past 8 months since opening the exhibition, about 50 people contacted the
Museum through an e-mail created to help research their unknown twin’s identity.
Only 2 of those 50 understood that research is to be conducted among their own
relatives instead of in the Museum’s archives.
Reﬂection: video – tinyurl.com/reﬂection-video
Reﬂection: case study – tinyurl.com/reﬂection-case
Reﬂection: presentation – tinyurl.com/reﬂection-presentation
Piotr Burdyło / Superskrypt