An important method to establish power is to rewrite history, to change the narration. In times of fakenews all sources of information should be questioned and handled with care and awareness of the potentials of content manipulation by different interested parties. This artpiece takes as an example Wikipedia to retrieve automatically images from their website and alter them.
Retouching photos is as old as photography itself but here it is reflected on what is possible completely automatic. How can machines rewrite history?
Preliminary concept video, demonstrating the already functioning aspects of this work (best viewed with FireFox or Chrome/ium)
To achieve this Malte Steiner created a software which harvests images from randomly chosen Wikipedia pages, analyses them with the help of the Machine Learning programming library Tensorflow. People found in the images are erased and the resulting gaps are filled by trying to reconstruct the background, with a varying degree of success. Some of the resulting, often empty images, are afterwards chosen to be painted traditionally in oil by Steiner, to elevate them towards being a new truth, as contemporary history paintings. Here some examples of the working software with links to the original pages which the algorithm randomly chose: