Artwork / Infodemic
- Abstract: Infodemic is a neural network-generated video that questions the mediated narratives created by social media influencers and celebrities about the coronavirus. The speakers featured in the video are an amalgam of celebrities, influencers, politicians, and tech moguls that have contributed to the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus by amplifying rumors, repeating narratives that are contrary to those of official health agencies, or developing technologies that amplify untrue content.
The talking heads in Infodemic are generated using a conditional generative adversarial network (cGAN) that predicts the pixels for each frame of a video through an algorithmic process similar to those used by search engines and social media news feeds. Search and content recommendation algorithms that once promised to provide access to more information and enable the public to make well-informed decisions have actually made it more difficult to find accurate information on important and politically-charged topics. There is a disconnect between the optimistic Possibles promised by the technocratic elite and the dangers posed by a power structure that can hide behind proprietary algorithms and circumvent criticism due to a general public’s limited technological understanding.
The cGAN in Infodemic was trained on a corpora of multiple individuals simultaneously. The result is a talking head that morphs between different speakers or becomes a glitchy Frankensteinian hybrid of different people that contributed to the current infodemic speaking the words of academics, medical experts, or journalists that are correcting false narratives or explaining how misinformation is created and spread. The plastic, evolving, and unstable speakers in the video evoke the mutation of the coronavirus, the instability of truth, and the limits of knowledge.
- Biography: Derek Curry (US) is an artist-researcher whose work critiques and addresses spaces for intervention in automated decision-making systems. His work has addressed automated stock trading systems, Open Source Intelligence gathering (OSINT), and algorithmic classification systems. His artworks have replicated aspects of social media surveillance systems and communicated with algorithmic trading bots.
Jennifer Gradecki (US) is an artist-theorist who investigates secretive and specialized socio-technical systems. Her artistic research has focused on social science techniques, financial instruments, dataveillance technologies, intelligence analysis, artificial intelligence, and social media misinformation.
Curry and Gradecki have presented and exhibited at venues including Ars Electronica (Linz), NeMe (Cypress), Media Art History (Krems), ADAF (Athens), and the Centro Cultural de España (México). Their research has been published in Big Data & Society, Visual Resources, and Leuven University Press. Their artwork has been funded by Science Gallery Dublin, Science Gallery Detroit and the NEoN Digital Arts Festival.
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