Bygone Times in Real Time

Artificial intelligence uses social media content to unveil two centuries of world heritage.
As soon as you enter, the installation challenges certainties: the images found on social networks have become actual cards. They take on a material dimension in the visitor’s hand. Placed on a lit plate, they trigger the display of a collection of old images on an immersive screen, taking viewers back to the 18th century. Good old photos witnessing bygone times have become digital. Visitors can watch them, scroll through them. A physical present, a digital past: the set-up questions our relationship to time, credibility and materiality.
The combination of these documents of very different origins is based on artificial intelligence – so-called deep learning techniques. But rather than restricting the results to users’ expectations or targeted marketing purposes, as Internet recommendation algorithms usually do, the device aims to foster discovery to build bridges between past times and real time. To counter the obscurantism of algorithms, it reveals what the machine recognises in the images and therefore how it associates them. The user can actually understand how the installation allows us to go back to the origins of the Fête in 1797.

Exhibition
18 July to 11 August 2019, from 11am to 8pm
Musée suisse de l’appareil photographique
Grande Place 99, Vevey

Public opening
Wednesday 17 July, from 5pm to 8pm
Thursday 18 July, from 5pm to 8pm

www.epfl-ecal-lab.ch