Deep Fakes: Can copies be art?

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.

This is how the fully automated 3D scan works:

Objects up to 50 cm in height and 30 cm in diameter are suitable for the fully automated scanning process, which takes only 5-15 minutes. The CultArm3D captures geometry and texture of 3D artifacts on a turntable fully automatically. Self-calibration makes it easy and fast to use. Precise geometry capture and color-calibrated textures are available immediately. In 90 percent of cases, no post-processing is required for the digital twin of the object. The virtual object can not only be viewed on the screen, but can also be 3D printed true to color and shape.


Cultural and creative economy

Our broad range of 3D technologies helps our customers achieve a unique degree of precision, down to the finest details. Our proven 3D scanning and 3D printing solutions enable highly accurate one-off reproductions as well as fast, cost-effective processes for volume manufacturing.

From scanning, to visualization, to the final 3D print—we have in-depth experience in the high-fidelity capture and reproduction of an object’s geometries.