Friday, November 16, 2018


Seeing Through the Fake Window Oil on linen 30 x 46 cm 2018

Fake stuff is happening everywhere! Fake news, fake videos, and now there is a thing called "deep fake". "Deep Fake" uses artificial intelligence to create images or videos the depict seemingly real events, with depictions of real people, sometimes even with fake people. So, for example, videos of politicians saying and doing things they have not said or done. Here are two interesting articles that discuss fake phenomena and artificial intelligence, and "deep fake":  You Thought Fake News Was Bad? Deep Fakes is Where Truth Goes to Die by Oscar Schwartz in The Guardian, and What You Have to Fear from Artificial Intelligence  by Ryan Metz in Current Affairs: A magazine of Politics and Culture.

Paul Metz writes: "If you think “fake news” is a problem now, just wait. When an image can be generated of literally anyone doing literally anything with perfect realism, truth is going to get a whole lot slipperier."

Fake news clearly has political, social and security issues, but "deep fake" takes these issues even further. Used indiscriminately, "deep fake', to my mind, is a threat to civilisation as we know it. 

Fake news, and particularly "deep fake" are intrinsically linked to digital and cyber technology generally, and the screen more specifically. The screen is the "third" or "cathode window", as Paul Virilio, called it in interviews and text. Jean Baudrillard also proposed a loss of reality delivered by the screen. His "perfect crime", the death of reality, may reach its ultimate prosecution in "deep fake". 

So, to my new painting Seeing Through the Fake Window. Obviously I am playing into the news about fake phenomena. I am also playing into the idea of the screen being a window, a fake one. Without the ubiquity of the screen would fake news and "deep fake" pose threats to the fabric of society? The screen is ubiquitous because it is the computer screen, mobile phone screen, or other device screen. The screen is, however, also associated with the camera and the weapon, surveillance and targeting. 

In Seeing Through the Fake Window. you can imagine yourself looking through a fake window, aka screen. Maybe it is an airborne drone screen, one of its many multispectral cameras perhaps ? Or, maybe you are looking at a remote drone pilot's screen. Or maybe, you are looking at a television screen, watching news of a true or fake story about a true of fake drone strike? I have painted a dark blue square in the middle of the night- vision green 'cloud'. Is that a new window? Maybe, maybe not.

Seeing Through the Fake Window is not only about giving an impression of looking through a window, a fake window. It is also about exposing the fakery, critiquing the fake window that delivers fake news into our private and public lives. 

As with many of my paintings, I have painted lines that crisscross a landscape. These lines are signals and computer graphic-like markings. They create a new landscape topography, one which is normally invisible, except perhaps on a screen, maybe a remote drone pilot's screen. It is a fake landscape! As I have previously written, nets of signals that enable connectivity and networking, wrap the planet, extending from land to satellites in space. Theses signals transmit news, stories and images - real and fake - around the world. 

"Deep fake" is a potentially disastrous 21st century tactical weapon, deployable via our nets of signals.

On that happy note!


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