Copies of artwork had a poor reputation even before the emergence of deep fakes. Now, the power of artificial intelligence has taken the manipulation of media to new heights. The EPFL Pavilions in Lausanne, Switzerland, is deliberately juxtaposing computer-generated deep fakes with original artwork—to what end?
The Deep Fakes: Art and Its Double exhibition makes abundantly clear that highly realistic adaptations and reproductions of artwork (deep fakes) created by artificial intelligence are more than just soulless replicas. Tragic events such as the Notre Dame fire have underlined how fragile even the strongest-seeming buildings can be. And ironically, the very best digital model of the famous church, and a boon for restoration work, was created by the developers of a video game—itself a genre that struggles for recognition in the art world.
But more than buildings are in danger. Smaller items, too, can easily be damaged or destroyed through war, natural disasters, and simply as a result of being transported from one exhibition venue to another. CultLab3D, a 3D scanner developed by Fraunhofer IGD, is demonstrating in Lausanne how easy it is to generate digital replicas. Before the eyes of the exhibition visitors, CultArm3D scans a samurai mask from the Edo period. The onlookers are then invited to compare the 3D-printed copy with the original—and are hard-pressed to tell the difference.