Deep Paula

2022, 5:35 min

“People take photos of each other to prove that they really exist” sang the Golden Zitronen in 1994. Today we know that photos prove nothing because they can be manipulated very easily. And they are no longer archived in photo albums, but are stored in the cloud on unknown servers.

And yet – our relationship to our own image is ambivalent: selfies are supposed to prove that we were at grandma’s birthday or on the Eiffel Tower, and at the same time we can manipulate our face beyond recognition with just one click. The technical possibilities are endless and are becoming more and more perfect thanks to Deep Learning and thus AI-supported applications.

But what does it mean when we can optimise or even animate old photos? What becomes of our memories when the patina is missing and deceased people suddenly smile at us?

In this work we are confronted with an old photograph that has been manipulated with the help of artificial intelligence. The girl in the photograph seems very much alive and authentic. Do we feel closer to her? We see different forms of movement and expression until she finally even seems to be dancing. At the latest now it becomes clear how absurd it is to map standardised movements onto the portrait of an individual. And in the end, one has to ask oneself whether “Paula” would have liked what we are doing with her memory.

Does the memory of a person become superfluous when an artificial liveliness gives way to our own flawed still image in our heads?

And doesn’t this illusion rather contribute to losing the last remnants of the memory of the real person?

Music: AI-generated