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information retrieval

information retrieval is usually an afterthought

learning objectives

After reading this chapter you should be able to describe scenarios for information retrieval, to explain how content analysis for images can be done, to characterize similarity metrics, to define the notions of recall and precision, and to give an example of frequence tables, as used in text search.

Searching for information on the web is cumbersome. Given our experiences today, we may not even want to think about searching for multimedia information on the (multimedia) web.

Nevertheless, in this chapter we will briefly sketch one of the possible scenarios indicating the need for multimedia search. In fact, once we have the ability to search for multimedia information, many scenarios could be thought of.

As a start, we will look at two media types, images and documents. We will study search for images, because it teaches us important lessons about content analysis of media objects and what we may consider as being similar. Perhaps surprisingly, we will study text documents because, due to our familiarity with this media type, text documents allow us to determine what we may understand by effective search.




Multimedia is not only for entertainment. Many human activities, for example medical diagnosis or scientific research, make use of multimedia information. To get an idea about what is involved in multimedia information retrieval look at the following scenario, adapted from  [Subrahmanian (1998)],

Amsterdam Drugport

Amsterdam is an international centre of traffic and trade. It is renowned for its culture and liberal attitude, and attracts tourists from various ages, including young tourists that are attracted by the availability of soft drugs. Soft drugs may be obtained at so-called coffeeshops, and the possession of limited amounts of soft drugs is being tolerated by the authories.

The European Community, however, has expressed their concern that Amsterdam is the centre of an international criminal drug operation. Combining national and international police units, a team is formed to start an exhaustive investigation, under the code name Amsterdam Drugport. Now, without bothering ourselves with all the logistics of such an operation, we may establish what sorts of information will be gathered during the investigation, and what support for (multimedia) storage and (multimedia) information retrieval must be available.


  • video surveillance -- monitoring
  • telephone wiretaps -- audio recording
  • photography -- archive
  • documents -- investigations
  • transactions -- structured data
  • geographic information -- locations, routes

Information can come from a variety of sources. Some types of information may be gathered continuously, for example by video cameras monitoring parking lots, or banks. Some information is already available, for example photographs in a (legacy database) police archive. Also of relevance may be information about financial transactions, as stored in the database of a bank, or geographic information, to get insight in possible dug traffic routes.

From a perspective of information storage our informatio (data) include the following media types: images, from photos; video, from surveillance; audio, from interviews and phone tracks; documents,from forensic research and reports; handwriting, from notes and sketches; and structured data, from for example bank transactions.

media types

  • images -- photos
  • video -- surveillance
  • audio -- interviews, phone tracks
  • documents -- forensic, reports
  • handwriting -- notes
  • structured data -- transactions
We have to find a way to store all these data by developing a suitable multimedia information system architecture, as discussed in chapter 6. More importantly, however, we must provide access to the data (or the information space, if you will) so that the actual police investigation is effectively supported. So, what kind of queries can we expect? For example, to find out more about a murder which seems to be related to the drugs operation.


  • image query -- all images with this person
  • audio query -- identity of speaker
  • text query -- all transactions with BANK Inc.
  • video query -- all segments with victim
  • complex queries -- convicted murderers with BANK transactions
  • heterogeneous queries -- photograph + murderer + transaction
  • complex heterogeneous queries -- in contact with + murderer + transaction
Apparently, we might have simple queries on each of the media types, for example to detect the identity of a voice on a telephone wiretap. But we may also have more complex queries, establishing for example the likelihood that a murderer known by the police is involved, or even heterogeneous queries (as they are called in  [Subrahmanian (1998)]), that establish a relation between information coming from multiple information sources. An example of the latter could be, did the person on this photo have any transactions with that bank in the last three months, or nore complex, give me all the persons that have been in contact with the victim (as recorded on audio phonetaps, photographs, and video surveillance tapes) that have had transactions with that particular bank.

I believe you'll have the picture by now. So what we are about to do is to investigate how querying on this variety of media types, that is images, text, audio and video, might be realized.



research directions -- information retrieval models

Information retrieval research has quite a long history, with a focus on indexing text and developing efficient search algorithms. Nowadays, partly due to the wide-spread use of the web, research in information retrieval includes modeling, classification and clustering, system architectures, user interfaces, information visualisation, filtering, descriptive languages, etcetera. See  [Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto (1999)].

information retrieval

Information retrieval, according to  [Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto (1999)], deals with the representation, storage, organisation of, and access to information items.

To see what is involved, imagine that we have a (user) query like:

find me the pages containg information on ...

Then the goal of the information retrieval system is to retrieve information that is useful or relevant to the user, in other words: information that satisfies the user's information need.

Given an information repository, which may consist of web pages but also multimedia objects, the information retrieval system must extract syntactic and semantic information from these (information) items and use this to match the user's information need.

Effective information retrieval is determined by, on the one hand, the user task and, on the other hand, the logical view of the documents or media objects that constitute the information repository. As user tasks, we may distinguish between retrieval (by query) and browsing (by navigation). To obtain the relevant information in retrieval we generally apply filtering, which may also be regarded as a ranking based on the attributes considered most relevant.

The logical view of text documents generally amounts to a set of index terms characterizing theb document. To find relevant index terms, we may apply operations to the document, such as the elimination of stop words or text stemming. As you may easily see, full text provides the most complete logical view, whereas a small set of categories provides the most concise logical view. Generally, the user task will determine whether semantic richness or efficiency of search will be considered as more important when deciding on the obvious tradeoffs involved.

information retrieval models

In  [Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto (1999)], a great variety of information retrieval models is described. For your understanding, an information retrieval model makes explicit how index terms are represented and how the index terms characterizing an information item are matched with a query.

When we limit ourselves to the classic models for search and filtering, we may distinguish between:

information retrieval models

  • boolean or set-theoretic models
  • vector or algebraic models
  • probabilistic models
Boolean models typically allow for yes/no answers only. The have a set-theoretic basis, and include models based on fuzzy logic, which allow for somewhat more refined answers.

Vector models use algebraic operations on vectors of attribute terms to determine possible matches. The attributes that make up a vector must in principle be orthogonal. Attributes may be given a weight, or even be ignored. Much research has been done on how to find an optimal selection of attributes for a given information repository.

Probabilistic models include general inference networks, and belief networks based on Bayesan logic.

Although it is somewhat premature to compare these models with respect to their effectiveness in actual information etrieval tasks, there is, according to  [Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto (1999)], a general consensus that vector models will outperform the probabilistic models on general collections of text documents. How they will perform for arbitrary collections of multimedia objects might be an altogether different question!

Nevertheless, in the sections to follow we will focus primarily on generalized vector representations of multimedia objects. So, let's conclude with listing the advantages of vector models.

vector models

  • attribute term weighting scheme improves performance
  • partial matching strategy allows retrieval of approximate material
  • metric distance allows for sorting according to degree of similarity
Reading the following sections, you will come to understand how to adopt an attribute weighting scheme, how to apply partial matching and how to define a suitable distance metric.

So, let me finish with posing a research issue: How can you improve a particular information retrieval model or matching scheme by using a suitable method of knowledge representation and reasoning? To give you a point of departure, look at the logic-based multimedia information retrieval system proposed in  [Fuhr et al. (1998)].


An image may tell you more than 1000 words. Well, whether images are indeed a more powerful medium of expression is an issue I'd rather leave aside. The problem how to get information out of an image, or more generally how to query image databases is, in the context of our Amsterdam Drugport operation more relevant. There are two issues here

image query

  • obtaining descriptive information
  • establishing similarity
These issues are quite distinct, although descriptive information may be used to establish similarity.

descriptive information

When we want to find, for example, all images that contain a person with say sunglasses, we need to have of the images in our database that includes this information one way or another. One way would be to annotate all images with (meta) information and describe the objects in the picture to some degree of detail. More challenging would be to extract image content by image analysis, and produce the description (semi) automatically.

content-based description

  • objects in image
  • shape descriptor -- shape/region of object
  • property description -- cells in image

According to  [Subrahmanian (1998)], content-based description of images involves the identification of objects, as well as an indication of where these objects are located in the image, by using a shape descriptor and possibly property descriptors indicating the pictorial properties of a particular region of the object or image.

Shape and property descriptors may take a form as indicated below.


  • bounding box -- (XLB,XUB,YLB,YUB)


  • property -- name=value
As an example of applying these descriptors.


  shape descriptor: XLB=10; XUB=60; YLB=3; YUB=50   (rectangle)  
  property descriptor: pixel(14,7): R=5; G=1; B=3 
Now, instead of taking raw pixels as the unit of analysis, we may subdivide an image in a grid of cells and establish properties of cells, by some suitable algorithm.


  • image grid: (m * n) cells of equal size
  • cell property: (Name, Value, Method)
As an example, we can define a property that indicates whether a particular cell if black or white.


  property: (bwcolor,{b,w},bwalgo) 
The actual algorithm used to establish such a property might be a matter of choice. So, in the example it is given as an explicit parameter.

From here to automatic content description is, admittedly, still a long way. We will indicate some research directions at the end of this section.



similarity-based retrieval

We need not necessarily know what an image (or segment of it) depicts to establish whether there are other images that contain that same thing, or something similar to it. We may, following  [Subrahmanian (1998)], formulate the problem of similarity-based retrieval as follows:

similarity-based retrieval

How do we determine whether the content of a segment (of a segmented image) is similar to another image (or set of images)?

Think of, for example, the problem of finding all photos that match a particular face.

According to  [Subrahmanian (1998)], there are two solutions:


  • metric approach -- distance between two image objects
  • transformation approach -- relative to specification
As we will see later, the transformation approach in some way subsumes the metric approach, since we can formulate a distance measure for the transformation approach as well.

metric approach

What does it mean when we say, the distance between two images is less than the distance between this image and that one. What we want to express is that the first two images (or faces) are more alike, or maybe even identical.

Abstractly, something is a distance measure if it satisfies certain criteria.

metric approach

distance d:X->[0,1] is distance measure if:

           d(x,y) = d(y,x)
  	 d(x,y) <= d(x,z) + d(z,y)
  	 d(x,x) = 0
For your intuition, it is enough when you limit yourself to what you are familiar with, that is measuring distance in ordinary (Euclidian) space.

Now, in measuring the distance between two images, or segments of images, we may go back to the level of pixels, and establish a distance metric on pixel properties, by comparing all properties pixel-wise and establishing a distance.

pixel properties

  • objects with pixel properties p_1,...,p_n
  • pixels: (x,y,v1,...,v_n)
  • object contains w x h (n+2)-tuples
Leaving the details for your further research, it is not hard to see that even if the absolute value of a distance has no meaning, relative distances do. So, when an image contains a face with dark sunglasses, it will be closer to (an image of) a face with dark sunglasses than a face without sunglasses, other things being equal. It is also not hard to see that a pixel-wise approach is, computationally, quite complex. An object is considered as


a set of points in k-dimensional space for k = n + 2

In other words, to establish similarity between two images (that is, calculate the distance) requires n+2 times the number of pixels comparisons.

feature extraction

Obviously,we can do better than that by restricting ourselves to a pre-defined set of properties or features.

feature extraction

  • maps object into s-dimensional space
For example, one of the features could indicate whether or not it was a face with dark sunglasses. So, instead of calculating the distance by establishing color differences of between regions of the images where sunglasses may be found, we may limit ourselves to considering a binary value, yes or no, to see whether the face has sunglasses.

Once we have determined a suitable set of features that allow us to establish similarity between images, we no longer need to store the images themselves, and can build an index based on feature vectors only, that is the combined value on the selected properties.

Feature vectors and extensive comparison are not exclusive, and may be combined to get more precise results. Whatever way we choose, when we present an image we may search in our image database and present all those objects that fall within a suitable similarity range, that is the images (or segments of images) that are close enough according to the distance metric we have chosen.



transformation approach

Instead of measuring the distance between two images (objects) directly, we can take one image and start modifying that until it exactly equals the target image. In other words, as phrased in  [
Subrahmanian (1998)], the principle underlying the transformation approach is:

transformation approach

Given two objects o1 and o2, the level of dissimilarity is proportional to the (minimum) cost of transforming object o1 into object o2 or vice versa

Now, this principle might be applied to any representation of an object or image, including feature vectors. Yet, on the level of images, we may think of the following operations:

transformation operators

    to_1,...,to_r  -- translation, rotation, scaling
Moreover, we can attach a cost to each of these operations and calculate the cost of a transformation sequence TSby summing the costs of the individual operations. Based on the cost function we can define a distance metric, which we call for obvious reasons the edit distance, to establish similarity between objects.


  • cost(TS) = %S_{i=1}^{r} cost(to_{i})


  • d(o,o') = min { cost(TS) | TS in TSeq(o,o') }
An obvious advantage of the edit distance over the pixel-wise distance metric is thatwe may have a rich choice of transformation operators that we can attach (user-defined) cost to at will.


  • user-defined similarity -- choice of transformation operators
  • user-defined cost-function

For example, we could define low costs for normalization operations, such as scaling and rotation, and attach more weight tooperations that modify color values or add shapes. For face recognition, for example, we could attribute low cost to adding sunglasses but high cost to changing the sex.

To support the transformation approach at the image level, our image database needs to include suitable operations. See  [Subrahmanian (1998)].


   segment(image-id, predicate)
   edit(image-id, edit-op)
We might even think of storing images, not as a collection of pixels, but as a sequence of operations on any one of a given set of base images. This is not such a strange idea as it may seem. For example, to store information about faces we may take a base collection of prototype faces and define an individual face by selecting a suitable prototype and a limited number of operations or additional properties.



example(s) -- match of the day

The images in this section present a match of the day, which is is part of the project split rpresentation by the Dutch media artist Geert Mul. As explain in the email sending the images, about once a week, Television images are recorded at random from satellite television and compared with each other. Some 1000.000.000 (one billion) equations are done every day.

. The split representation project uses the image analyses and image composition software NOTATION, which was developed by Geert Mul (concept) and Carlo Preize (programming ∓ software design).

research directions -- multimedia repositories

What would be the proper format to store multimedia information? In other words, what is the shape multimedia repositories should take? Some of the issues involved are discussed in chapter 6, which deals with information system architectures. With respect to image repositories, we may rephrase the question into what support must an image repository provide, minimally, to allow for efficient access and search?. In  [Subrahmanian (1998)], we find the following answer:

image repository

  • storage -- unsegmented images
  • description -- limited set of features
  • index -- feature-based index
  • retrieval -- distance between feature vectors
And, indeed, this seems to be what most image databases provide. Note that the actual encoding is not of importance. The same type of information can be encoded using either XML, relational tables or object databases. What is of importance is the functionality that is offered to the user, in terms of storage and retrieval as well as presentation facilities.

What is the relation between presentation facilities and the functionality of multimedia repositories? Consider the following mission statement, which is taken from my research and projects page.


Our goal is to study aspects of the deployment and architecture of virtual environments as an interface to (intelligent) multimedia information systems ...

Obviously, the underlying multimedia repository must provide adequate retrieval facilities and must also be able to deliver the desired objects in a format suitable for the representation and possibly incorporation in such an environment. Actually, at this stage, I have only some vague ideas about how to make this vision come through. Look, however, at chapter 7 and appendix platform for some initial ideas.




Even in the presence of audiovisual media, text will remain an important vehicel for human communication. In this section, we will look at the issues that arise in querying a text or document database. First we will characterize more precisely what we mean by effective search, and then we will study techniques to realize effective search for document databases.

Basically, answering a query to a document database comes down to string matching.


  • document database + string matching
However, some problems may occur such as synonymy and polysemy.


  • synonymy -- topic T does not occur literally in document D
  • polysemy -- some words may have many meanings
As an example, church and house of prayer have more or less the same meaning. So documents about churches and cathedrals should be returned when you ask for information about 'houses of prayer'. As an exampleof polysemy, think of the word drum, which has quite a different meaning when taken from a musical perspective than from a transport logistics perspective.


precision and recall

Suppose that, when you pose a query, everything that is in the database is returned. You would probably not be satisfied, although every relevant document will be included, that is for sure. On the other hand, when nothing is returned, at least you cannot complain about non-relevant documents that are returned, or can you?

In  [Subrahmanian (1998)], the notions of precision and recall are proposed to measure the effectiveness of search over a document database. In general, precision and recall can be defined as follows.

effective search

  • precision -- how many answers are correct
  • recall -- how many of the right documents are returned
For your intuition, just imagine that you have a database of documents. With full knowledge of the database you can delineate a set of documentsthatare of relevance to a particular query. Also, you can delineate a set that will be returned by some given search algorithm. Then, precision is the intersection of the two sets in relation to whatthe search algorithm returns, and recall that same intersection in relation to what is relevant. In pseudo-formulas, we can express this as follows:

precision and recall

  precision = ( returned and relevant ) / returned  
  recall = ( returned and relevant ) / relevant 
Now, as indicated in the beginning, it is not to difficult to get either perfect recall (by returning all documents) or perfect precision (by returning almost nothing).


  • return all documents: perfect recall, low precision
  • return 'nothing': 'perfect' precision, low recall
But these must be considered anomalies (that is, sick cases), and so the problem is to find an algorithm that performs optimally with respect to both precision and recall.

For the total database we can extend these measures by taking the averages of precision and recall for all topics that the database may be queried about.

Can these measures only be applied to document databases? Of course not, these are general measures that can be applied to search over any media type!

frequency tables

A frequency table is an example of a way to improve search. Frequency tables, as discussed in  [Subrahmanian (1998)], are useful for documents only. Let's look at an example first.


Basically, what a frequency table does is, as the name implies, give a frequency count for particular words or phrases for a number of documents. In effect, a complete document database may be summarized in a frequency table. In other words, the frequency table may be considered as an index to facilitate the search for similar documents.

To find a similar document, we can simply make a word frequency count for the query, and compare that with the colums in the table. As with images, we can apply a simpledistance metric to find the nearest (matching) documents. (In effect, we may take the square root for the sum of the squared differences between the entries in the frequence count as our distance measure.)

The complexity of this algorithm may be characterized as follows:


compare term frequencies per document -- O(M*N)

where M is the number of terms and N is the number of documents. Since both M and N can become very large we need to make an effort to reduce the size of the frequency table.


  • stop list -- irrelevant words
  • word stems -- reduce different words to relevant part
We can, for example, introduce a stop list to prevent irrelevant words to enter the table, and we may restrict ourselves to including word stems only, to bring back multiple entries to one canonical form. With some additional effort we could even deal with synonymy and polysemy by introducing, respectively equivalence classes, and alternatives (although we then need a suitable way for ambiguation). By the way, did you notice that frequency tables may be regarded as feature vectors for documents?



research directions -- user-oriented measures

Even though the reductions proposed may result in limiting the size of the frequency tables, we may still be faced with frequency tables of considerable size. One way to reduce the size further, as discussed in  [Subrahmanian (1998)], is to apply latent sematic indexing which comes down to clustering the document database, and limiting ourselves to the most relevant words only, where relevance is determined by the ratio of occurrence over the total number of words. In effect, the less the word occurs, the more discriminating it might be. Alternatively,the choice of what words are considered relevant may be determined by taking into account the area of application or the interest of a particular group of users.



user-oriented measures

Observe that, when evaluating a particular information retrieval system, the notions of precision and recall as introduced before are rather system-oriented measures, based on the assumption of a user-independent notion of relevance. However, as stated in  [Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto (1999)], different users might have a different interpretation on which document is relevant. In  [Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto (1999)], some user-oriented measures are briefly discussed, that to some extent cope with this problem.

user-oriented measures

  • coverage ratio -- fraction of known documents
  • novelty ratio -- fraction of new (relevant) documents
  • relative recall -- fraction of expected documents
  • recall effort -- fraction of examined documents
Consider a reference collection, an example information request and a retrieval strategy to be evaluated. Then the coverage ratio may be defined as the fraction of the documents known to be relevant, or more precisely the number of (known) relevant documents retrieved divided by the total number of documents known to be relevant by the user.

The novelty ratio may then be defined as the fraction of the documents retrieved which were not known to be relevant by the user, or more precisely the number of relevent documents that were not known by the user divided by the total number of relevant documents retrieved.

The relative recall is obtained by dividing the number of relevant documents found by the number of relevant documents the user expected to be found.

Finally, recall effortmay be characterized as the ratio of the number of relevant documents expected and the total number of documents that has to be examined to retrieve these documents.

Notice that these measures all have a clearly 'subjective' element, in that, although they may be generalized to a particular group of users, they will very likely not generalize to all groups of users. In effect, this may lead to different retrieval strategies for different categories of users, taking into account levelof expertise and familiarity with the information repository.

development(s) -- unconvenient truth(s)

Since the 1970's, Dutch universities have enormously grown in size, due to the ever larger number of students that aim at having university level education. As departments become bigger, however, staff members no longer know eachother personally. The impersonal and anonymous atmosphere is increasingly an issue of concern for the management, and various initiatives have been taken, including collective trips into nature, as well as cultural events, not to much avail for that matter. An additional problem is that more and more members of the staff come from different countries and cultures, often only with a temporal contract and residence permit. Yet, during heir stay, they also have the desire to communicate and learn about the other staff members and their culture(s). As you can see, it is not only the climate or science itself that provides us with unconvenient truths. Life at the university, not only in Second Life, apparently suffers from the changing times.

In  [Eliens & Vyas (2007)], we wrote: in september 2006, the idea came up to use a large screen display in one of the public spaces in our department, to present, one way or another, the 'liveliness' of the work place, and to look for ways that staff members might communicate directly or indirectly with eachother through this display. Observing that communications often took place during casual encounters at the coffee machine or printer, we decided that monitoring the interactions at such places might give a clue about the liveliness of the work place. In addition, we noted that the door and one of the walls in the room where the coffee machine stood, was used by staff members to display personal items, such as birth announcement cards or sport trophees. In that same room, mostly during lunch time, staff members also gathered to play cards.

Taking these observations together, we decided to develop a system, nicknamed PANORAMA, to present these ongoing activities and interactions on a large display, which was to be positioned in the coffee room. The name of our system is derived from the famous Mesdag Panorama in The Hague, which gives a view on (even in that time nostalgic rendering of) Scheveningen. However, it was explicitly not our intention to give an in any sense realistic/naturalistic remdering of the work place, but rather, inspired by artistic interpretations of panoramic applications as presented in  [Grau (2003)], to find a more art-ful way of visualizing the social structure and dynamics of the work place.


(a) context(b) self-reflection


At this stage, about one year later, we have a running prototype (implemented in DirectX), for which we did perform a preliminary field study, see the figure above, as well as a first user evaluation,  [Panorama], and also we have experimented with a light-weight web-based variant, allowing access from the desktop,  [Si & Eliens (2007)]. Our primary focus, however, we stated in  [Eliens & Vyas (2007)], was to establish the relation between interaction aesthetics and game play, for which PANORAMA served as a vehicle.

When we think of media as an extension of our senses, as we remarked in chapter 1 following  [Zielinski (2006)], we may reformulate the question of interaction aesthetics as the problem of clarifying the aesthetics of media rich interactive applications.

However, what do we mean exactly by the phrase aesthetics? The Internet Enceclopedia of Philosophy discusses under the heading of aesthetics topics such as


  • intentions -- motives of the artist
  • expression -- where form takes over
  • representation -- the relation of art to reality
As we wrote in  [Saw (1971)], these topics obviously do not cover what we want, so we took a call for contributions to the aesthetics of interaction as a good chance to dust of our old books, and rekindle our interest in this long forgotten branch of philosophy, aesthetics.

It may come as a shock to realize how many perspectives apply to the notion of aesthetics. First of all, we may take an analytical approach, as we do in section 2, to see in what ways the phrase aesthetics is used, and derive its meaning from its usage in a variety of contexts. However, we find it more worthwhile to delve into the history of thought and clarify the meaning of aesthetics from an epistemological point of view, following  [Kant (1781)], as an abstract a priori form of awareness, which is in later phenomenological thinking augmented with a notion of self-consciousness. See section 12.4. In this line of thinking we also encounter the distinction between aesthetic awareness and aesthetic judgement, the dialectic relationship of which becomes evident in for example the occurrence of aestheticism in avant-garde art,  [Burger (1981)].

When writing  [Saw (1971)], we came along a report of how the Belgium curator Jan Hoet organized the Documenta IX, a famous yearly art event in Germany, and we were struck by the phrase art and the public sharing accomodation,  [Documenta], which in a way that we have yet to clarify expresses some of our intuition we have with respect to the role the new interactive systems may play in our lives.

What can we hope to achieve when taking a more philosophical look at interaction aesthetics? Not so much, at first sight. According to  [Körner (1973)], aesthetic theory ... will not be able to provide aesthetic guidance even to the extent to which moral theory can give moral guidance. The reason is that aesthetic experience and creation defy conceptualization, or in other words they defy the identification, classification and evaluation of aesthetic objects by means of non-aesthetic attributes. However, as  [Körner (1973)] observes, in a paradoxical way aesthetic experience not only defies but also invites conceptualization, and therefore it seems worthwhile to gain a better understanding in what underlies the experience and creation of (aesthetic) interactive systems. If we can not change the world to become a better place, we might perhaps be concerned with making it a more beautiful place ...




5. information retrieval



projects & further reading

As a project, you may implement simple image analysis algorithms that, for example, extract a color histogram, or detect the presence of a horizon-like edge.

You may further explore scenarios for information retrieval in the cultural heritage domain. and compare this with other applications of multimedia information retrieval, for example monitoring in hospitals.

For further reading I suggest to make yourself familiar with common techniques in information retrieval as described in  [Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto (1999)], and perhaps devote some time to studying image analisis,  [Gonzales and Wintz (1987)].

the artwork

  1. artworks -- ..., Miro, Dali, photographed from Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, see artwork 2.
  2. left Miro from  [Kunst], right: Karel Appel
  3. match of the day (1) -- Geert Mul
  4. match of the day (2) -- Geert Mul
  5. match of the day (3) -- Geert Mul
  6. mario ware -- taken from gammo/veronica.
  7. baten kaitos -- eternal ways and the lost ocean, taken from gammo/veronica.
  8. idem.
  9. PANORAMA -- screenshots from field test.
  10. signs -- people,  [ van Rooijen (2003)], p. 252, 253.
The art opening this chapter belongs to the tradition of 20th century art. It is playful, experimental, with strong existential implications, and it shows an amazing variety of styles.

The examples of match of the day by Geert Mul serve to illustrate the interplay between technology and art, and may also start you to think about what similarity is. Some illustrations from games are added to show the difference in styles.

(C) Æliens 23/08/2009

You may not copy or print any of this material without explicit permission of the author or the publisher. In case of other copyright issues, contact the author.