Cyprus as AI Saw it: Reinventing the Colonial Gaze

A collaboration with Marinos Koutsomichalis

Installation consisting of printed AI-generated text and images, books, mobile app

2021

A hybrid AI system consisting of an AttnGAN text-to-image generation model and a RNN text generator, are trained with text from colonial handbooks of Cyprus, originally published when Cyprus was still part of the British Empire, as well as with a custom image dataset meant to reflect this colonial view of the island. This AI hybrid is then left to iterate, generating original colonial views of Cyprus upon demand. The resulting text and imagery are used in a number of related artistic outputs, exhibitions, events and artefacts. Employing a variety of physical, digital and hybrid media, audiences are encouraged to interact with the system, producing unique (and often individualised) colonial views of Cyprus. In this fashion, the project re-examines the historical relationship between coloniser and colonised, generating an alternative colonial narrative as a tactic to regain agency from a local point of view.

In addition to some of the original colonial-era books which were used to train the decolonial AI system, the installation presents the outputs of the material generated by the AI system, in the form of a ‘decolonial’ book about the island of Cyprus, while a mobile app version of the project allows users to generate colonial text and image upon demand.

You can download the iOS app here, and the Android app here.

The emperor now appeared to be the successor of the Cypriote winns, and the country is a system of irrigation; but there is a more abranct and speaky of the present moment, and which was a stream of water on a raffering spring
Cyprus as AI Saw it: Reinventing the Colonial Gaze

Tetramatyka 2021, LEM Station, Lviv, Ukraine, 2021. Photo: Tetramatyka

Electropixel #12, Nantes, France, 2022. Photo: Thanos Vozikis