Turns Out a Picture is Only Worth 20 Words

Artist Matt Richardson has developed the Descriptive Camera, which works a like a regular camera except instead of an image the camera produces a text description of the scene.

After the shutter button is pressed, the photo is sent to Mechanical Turk for processing and the camera waits for the results. A yellow LED indicates that the results are still “developing” in a nod to film-based photo technology. With a HIT price of $1.25, results are returned typically within 6 minutes and sometimes as fast as 3 minutes. The thermal printer outputs the resulting text in the style of a polaroid print.

Below are three examples of the Descriptive Camera’s output, which is sort of a cross between a card catalogue and a haiku, along with the original photo. All text and photos courtesy of Matt Richardson.

1. “Looks like a cupboard which is ugly and old, having some name plates on it with a study lamp attached to it.”

2. “This is a faded picture of a dilapidated building. It seems to be run down and in need of repairs.”

3. “Corner of a wood floored room with a tool chest, bike, stack of books, box leaning against the wall, an open door with a bag hanging off the doorknob, and a pair of closed double doors with cables hanging on the handles.”

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