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Welcoming Our New Residents to ThoughtWorks Arts Residency

Posted by the ThoughtWorks Arts Team
Monday, 22 June 2020

We are delighted to welcome our latest residents Nouf Aljowaysir and James Coupe to our Synthetic Media Residency.

The two artists join us for the summer 2020 season, where because of COVID-19 they will work remotely on simultaneous projects from their respective studios in Brooklyn and Seattle.

Nouf and James’ innovative art practices possess different approaches to critical issues within synthetic media models, as they both challenge human-machine relationships in socially active ways.

Nouf Aljowaysir

Nouf is a Saudi-born, New York-based artist, and is a lead researcher and developer in creative applications of AI at creative agency Havas. Her work has focused on creative and technical innovation such as the use of machine learning style transfer techniques for brand-building, and critiquing complex interweaving of perceptions and perception management around voice conversational technologies.

Installation shot of Alexa: Call Mom!
Installation shot of Alexa: Call Mom!

Nouf plans to develop a project at ThoughtWorks which seeks to understand cultural transmission of ideas and worldviews across human generations, using her own family and upbringing in the Middle East as a reference point. Nouf is tracing a line which formed the context around her family’s story, through restrictive implementations of puritanical Wahhabism, waves of immigration, classic Egyptian cinema of the 1940s and Saudi attitudes of identity in contemporary times.

Nouf will process elements of cultural artifacts from her personal history and research, transforming them into machine learning systems. This will allow her to monitor, measure and reproduce new forms and explore patterns of learned cultural transmission over through generations.

James Coupe

James Coupe is a British artist based in Seattle who works with video, installation, internet, and emerging media forms. His previous work has critiqued the automation of racial and social profiling and made transparent some of its inherent flaws.

Warriors by James Coupe

He uses a custom deepfake generation process to allow gallery visitors to see their faces faked into films using standard algorithms. This both perpetuates, but also exhibits the hidden stereotyping beneath the surface of current sorting algorithms.

During this residency James will turn his attention to historical archives in order to expose lineages of social and economic divisions in the UK during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He will do this through highlighting parallel trajectories taking place within the scope of British colonialism. This includes examining difficult issues like historical escapism, racial exoticism, national exceptionalism and “social murder”, issues that continue to flare up centuries later.

Technically this includes working generative adversarial networks such as StyleGAN, ATTNGan and others, and potentially using generative linguistic modelling such as GPT-2 and GPT-3. These will be rolled together into architectural plans for a Brexit-inspired theme park potentially using ArchiGAN. By fusing the real and imaginary the work hovers between the archival past and uncertain futures.

We look forward to assisting Nouf and James on developing their respective projects and having them become part of our ThoughtWorks Arts community.

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