The New Riviera

“A trio of shimmering beachfront towers right in the heart of Limassol’s affluent waterfront”

2020

Series of AttnGAN Text-to-Image synthesis images, trained on the Microsoft COCO dataset

Cyprus has had a citizenship for investment plan in place since 2013, under which a minimum 2 million-euro investment can buy a passport and visa-free travel throughout the European Union. The scheme has been highly controversial, destroying protected Natura2000 natural areas and revealing high levels of corruption, implicating high-level politicians – disregarding international laws, the environment and the rights of the island’s own inhabitants, all in the name of development and the economy.

Text from Cypriot real estate developers’ marketing material describing Cyprus, aimed at foreign investors interested in the Cyprus citizenship investment program, has been converted into images, using an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Text-to-Image synthesis model. The biased text of the developers’ marketing brochures is generated into images using the Microsoft COCO dataset – a collection of curated images that are used as reference to train the AI model to generate new imagery of its own. The COCO dataset is one of the world’s most widely used computer vision datasets, used to train AI models to caption, categorise and generate images. Created in the US, a Western AI superpower whose technologies are used worldwide, such datasets have been increasingly criticised for being developed from a male, white, and Western perspective, leaving behind under-represented communities. 

The New Riviera aims comment on how colonisation of our island is still a part of our everyday lives in many different ways, and highlights the paramount importance of ethical considerations of any kind of development.