Aagards Glasplader Hacked

Aagaards Glasplader is a collection of high-resolution portrait photos from 1857-1880. At Hack4dk 2019 I trained a GAN model to generate new portraits of non-existing people and a text generation model to dream up biographies of the generated people.

While the digital impacts our mnemonic capacities, historical archives are also digitized affecting how we collectively remember the past. Together with a StyleGAN model, Andreas Refsgaard re-writes our history in the video work Aagaards Glasplader. A generative adversarial network (GAN) is a machine-learning system that can produce an image from a preexisting visual database. From this database, it intercepts patterns and information, after which it can demonstrate its own reverie of the world. Refsgaard has run portrait photos from the mid-19th century through the model, generating new portraits of a non-existing past accompanied by likewise generated historical biographies. It is just plain math, and yet this maneuver can be described as a symbiotic creative process between machine and human. Refsgaard’s work imitates how machine-vision, such as intelligent surveillance cameras and image recognition on social media, detects and analyzes objects, faces, and actions in our everyday surroundings.

Text by Ida Schyum for the online group exhibition Extensions vol. 1 at Radar Contemporary.

Behind the project

I explain the process and thoughts behind the project in this video from Radar Channel


Extensions vol. 1 at Radar Contemporary, Copenhagen/Online 2020, Group Show