“Infodemic” by Derek Curry, Jennifer Gradecki


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Title:


    Infodemic

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Medium:


    Neural Network-generated Video

Duration:


    6:06

Artist Statement:


    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.


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