About MegaPixels

MegaPixels is an independent art and research project by Adam Harvey and Jules LaPlace that investigates the ethics, origins, and individual privacy implications of face recognition image datasets and their role in the expansion of biometric surveillance technologies.

MegaPixels is made possible with support from Mozilla

Adam Harvey

is Berlin-based American artist and researcher. His previous projects (CV Dazzle, Stealth Wear, and SkyLift) explore the potential for counter-surveillance as artwork. He is the founder of VFRAME (visual forensics software for human rights groups) and is a currently researcher in residence at Karlsruhe HfG.

Jules LaPlace

is an American technologist and artist also based in Berlin. He was previously the CTO of a digital agency in NYC and now also works at VFRAME, developing computer vision and data analysis software for human rights groups. Jules also builds experimental software for artists and musicians.

MegaPixels is an art and research project first launched in 2017 for an installation at Tactical Technology Collective's GlassRoom about face recognition datasets. In 2018 MegaPixels was extended to cover pedestrian analysis datasets for a commission by Elevate Arts festival in Austria. Since then MegaPixels has evolved into a large-scale interrogation of hundreds of publicly-available face and person analysis datasets, the first of which launched on this site in April 2019.

MegaPixels aims to provide a critical perspective on machine learning image datasets, one that might otherwise escape academia and industry funded artificial intelligence think tanks that are often supported by the several of the same technology companies who have created datasets presented on this site.

MegaPixels is an independent project, designed as a public resource for educators, students, journalists, and researchers. Each dataset presented on this site undergoes a thorough review of its images, intent, and funding sources. Though the goals are similar to publishing an academic paper, MegaPixels is a website-first research project, with an academic publication to follow.

One of the main focuses of the dataset investigations presented on this site is to uncover where funding originated. Because of our emphasis on other researcher's funding sources, it is important that we are transparent about our own. This site and the past year of research have been primarily funded by a privacy art grant from Mozilla in 2018. The original MegaPixels installation in 2017 was built as a commission for and with support from Tactical Technology Collective and Mozilla. The research into pedestrian analysis datasets was funded by a commission from Elevate Arts, and continued development in 2019 is supported in part by a 1-year Researcher-in-Residence grant from Karlsruhe HfG, as well as lecture and workshop fees.

  • Adam Harvey: Concept, research and analysis, design, computer vision
  • Jules LaPlace: Information and systems architecture, data management, web applications
Contributing Researchers
  • Berit Gilma
  • Beth (aka Ms. Celeb)
  • Mathana Stender
Code and Libraries
  • Semantic Scholar for citation aggregation
  • Leaflet.js for maps
  • C3.js for charts
  • ThreeJS for 3D visualizations
  • PDFMiner.Six and Pandas for research paper analysis

If you use MegaPixels or any data derived from it for your work, please cite our original work as follows:

 author = {Harvey, Adam. LaPlace, Jules.},
 title = {MegaPixels: Origins, Ethics, and Privacy Implications of Publicly Available Face Recognition Image Datasets},
 year = 2019,
 url = {},
 urldate = {2019-04-18}

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