Bill Posters on deepfakes and transparency

Artist-researcher Bill Posters talks to CR about creating viral celebrity deepfakes, as well as the role of art in making complex topics relatable and the motivations behind Spectre, his new award-winning installation with Daniel Howe

Famous people will say anything these days. Mark Zuckerberg admitting to abusing Facebook users’ information, or Kim Kardashian chatting about manipulating public data for money is a little unexpected though.

Look as closely as you want, but it’s nigh on impossible to tell that these clips are fakes, if it weren’t for the purposefully jarring content of what they’re saying. The series – which also counts Morgan Freeman and Marina Abramović among its ‘stars’ – is part of a broader effort from transatlantic duo Bill Posters and Daniel Howe to lay bare the dubious technological underbelly of modern society.

The artist-researchers wanted to get across their message on the obscurity of truth and lack of transparency in the digital age. Their approach was two-pronged: an immersive installation, propped up by a series of ‘deepfakes’ made in collaboration with Canny AI. A deepfake is a layman’s term for a generative AI video – a disconcertingly believable dub, which typically requires a “synthesised image and synthesised audio. Then the two are generally combined,” Bill Posters tells CR.