Historically, hyperrealistic and mechanically produced replicas of the human face have been used to document personal identity beyond any possible doubt. If our real faces present ourselves to the rest of the world, their mechanical reproduction – from cast to photography – has been regarded as the most adequate way to guarantee a perfect correspondence between the image and its referent. A passport photo owes its documentary and legal value to the fact that it is, in a way, my self, for it provides evidence of my identity thanks to the automatic, noninterventionist character of the reproduction process. The simple fact that a picture “looks so real” evokes in the observer the idea that it must have been mechanically produced, and this, in turn, immediately generates the belief in its objective truth. As a result, the image achieves the status of a reliable document. Yet what happens when the traditional association between hyperrealism, mechanicalness, and objective truth is disentangled? In 2017, French artist Raphaël Fabre successfully applied for a national identity card by submitting a computer-generated portrait of him instead of a real photograph. Thanks to different software commonly employed for creating special effects in the cinema and the videogame industry, Fabre succeeded in obtaining an official document where the actual body is absent, being nothing but the result of artificial processes: a mockument, or in the artist’s own words, “a version of videogame, fiction”. The age-old contrast between “being” and “being perceived” resurfaces in a new guise, for this picture is no longer a photograph, but it looks exactly like a photograph: it is a pseudograph, a hyper-realistic image that, however, does not derive from any authomatic process of production whatsoever. Starting from this specific case study, my talk shall focus on the question of the invasiveness of the digital to reality by taking into account the social, legal, and even ethical problems that such an interweaving of actual reality and digital (un)reality can easily arise, as the misuse of digitally reproduced faces in so-called deepfakes has made more and more evident.

Documenti o mockumenti? Volto e identità all’epoca dei deepfake / P. Conte (FILOSOFIE). - In: L’altro volto del reale : Il virtuale nella comunicazione e nelle arti contemporanee / [a cura di] C. Dalpozzo, F. Negri, A. Novaga. - [s.l] : Mimesis, 2020. - ISBN 9788857573908. - pp. 63-85

Documenti o mockumenti? Volto e identità all’epoca dei deepfake

P. Conte
2020

Abstract

Historically, hyperrealistic and mechanically produced replicas of the human face have been used to document personal identity beyond any possible doubt. If our real faces present ourselves to the rest of the world, their mechanical reproduction – from cast to photography – has been regarded as the most adequate way to guarantee a perfect correspondence between the image and its referent. A passport photo owes its documentary and legal value to the fact that it is, in a way, my self, for it provides evidence of my identity thanks to the automatic, noninterventionist character of the reproduction process. The simple fact that a picture “looks so real” evokes in the observer the idea that it must have been mechanically produced, and this, in turn, immediately generates the belief in its objective truth. As a result, the image achieves the status of a reliable document. Yet what happens when the traditional association between hyperrealism, mechanicalness, and objective truth is disentangled? In 2017, French artist Raphaël Fabre successfully applied for a national identity card by submitting a computer-generated portrait of him instead of a real photograph. Thanks to different software commonly employed for creating special effects in the cinema and the videogame industry, Fabre succeeded in obtaining an official document where the actual body is absent, being nothing but the result of artificial processes: a mockument, or in the artist’s own words, “a version of videogame, fiction”. The age-old contrast between “being” and “being perceived” resurfaces in a new guise, for this picture is no longer a photograph, but it looks exactly like a photograph: it is a pseudograph, a hyper-realistic image that, however, does not derive from any authomatic process of production whatsoever. Starting from this specific case study, my talk shall focus on the question of the invasiveness of the digital to reality by taking into account the social, legal, and even ethical problems that such an interweaving of actual reality and digital (un)reality can easily arise, as the misuse of digitally reproduced faces in so-called deepfakes has made more and more evident.
Settore M-FIL/04 - Estetica
Settore L-ART/06 - Cinema, Fotografia e Televisione
Settore L-ART/03 - Storia dell'Arte Contemporanea
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/931778
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