The Real Paul Jones

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Faces of Chicago

Chicago knows how to put on good faces. I’ve been impressed about how faces are used by art and technology working together at least three times in the past 24 hours.

First, the great and somewhat eerie Philip K Dick robot whose facial movements were incredibly real. But wait there’s more. Dick also scanned to room for faces and locked in on each one until he could recognize the person speaking to him.

Second, the two 50 foot Crown Fountains (and on a day like today the Crown Wading Pool and Shower). These are constructed of glass blocks with a metal structure inside. Water runs down the blocks on three sides (most of the time). The side of the towers that face each other are screens for internally projected videos. These videos are the faces of various Chicagoans who cast their 50 foot tall visage toward each other across the small splashing bathers. They blink occassionally. The move their lips a bit. Then they both suck in a little and suddenly a stream of water sprays out of their mouths on to the waders. Suddenly the blocks go blank and water cascades down from the top of the towers.

Third, at the Art Institute of Chicago down in the Children’s section near the wonderful miniature the Thorne Rooms (thanks to telling us about them Max). Adobe Aftereffects are put to good use. They run a series of morphs across over 100+ images of faces in all styles from the Art Institutes collection. You see a Mayan head morph into an early American portrait into a Cubist face study into an African mask into a Walker Evans photograph into … What a great way to see who the various visions of artists related to the subject of the human face! The entire run is about 15 minutes


  1. Have you and Sally made it to Billygoats yet? Sure, it’s a little cheesy but I think it’s a must see for a politician with newsprint in her blood.

    It’s located here:,+IL&spn=0.022203,0.032830&hl=en

    I usually walk over the river from downtown to towards the Tribune and then take the steps directly after crossing the river on the left to get under the street. It’s underneath the surface roads but is fairly identifiable by the neon out front.

  2. On 2nd thought, you might want to cross on N. Wabash headed towards the SunTimes. You can duck down the steps to the right or continue on towards the Tribune past the Wrigley building.

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