Highly complex algorithms enable video- and voice-controlled “deep fakes” to create fictitious realities almost in real time, steering our perception without leaving a trace.
These technical algorithms work with the very features that give us our unique and individual human identity: our voice or our face. That is a remarkable feat given that science is still in its infancy when it comes to a deeper understanding of these identity-forming characteristics. Deep fakes are often associated with cases of misuse for nefarious purposes. But, while the technology certainly harbors considerable potential for spreading misinformation in the socio-political realm, in the fields of art and entertainment it is often used instead to put words in the mouths of celebrities or swap out peoples’ faces.
The immersive installation All the Lives, by contrast, allows viewers to use deep fakes to enter into alternative living situations that may be imminent in the future or that have already been experienced in the past. First, an image and a voice sample of the visitor is recorded, and then these are integrated using a deep fake algorithm into short films in which viewers find themselves in a synthesized life reality. Visitors see themselves, for example, as seniors on the terrace of their sunny beach house or sitting alone at a table, trapped in a dreary office or as movie stars besieged by flashing cameras, or as athletes pummeling a punching bag.
The experience of seeing your own deep fake alter-ego in a new role, situation, or identity that you had not previously experienced encourages reflection on conventional roles and the life plan that you have been pursuing. In this sense, All the Lives can be understood as a philosophical machine that brings opting for a certain way of life, with all its limitations, into sharp focus while at the same time offering a projection screen for the self and potential alternate identities. In the process, the immersive experience enables a deeper understanding of the social and political dimensions of these new technologies. This innovative art installation thus paves the way for novel scientific approaches to researching the human identity code.
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Concept: Dr. Björn Franke, Interaction Design & Visual Communication, ZHdK
Programming: Paulina Zybinska, Interaction Design, ZHdK
Video: Nadine Cocina, Interaction Design, ZHdK
Casting: Isabela Gygax
Actors: Tina Schmid, Christian Leugger, Teresa Matusadila Leuzinger, Rahim Lascandri, Astrid Kehl, Kurt Herzog, Kemal Dempster, Christoph Gross, Susann Klossek, Walesca Frank, Melisa Sari Arslan, Ramona Sprenger, Jemsith Regan Raveendran, June Donkor, Oliver Meier, Clifford Seidmann, Elijah Knight, Kate Tsui