Seeing is Believing

Devin Ronneberg + Kite

Seeing is Believing

An AI generated conspiracy project that intentionally makes us question the truth in our beliefs.

Currently in development as part of Sundance New Frontiers Storylab 2020, and a recipient of the New Frontiers 2020 Catherine T. and Arthur D. MacArthur project grant.

In Seeing is Believing, Devin Ronneberg and Kite utilize machine learning applications for the generation and manipulation of video, sound, and text, examining the intersections between international Indigenous communities, extracted materials, and colonial nuclear obsession. Probing conflations of belief, fact, and conspiracy with hard evidence, this project embraces technologies which make fiction seem as real as fact. Drawing from Lou Cornum’s essay, “Irradiated International”, this project especially considers the sites of Uranium extraction in Indian Country, as well as the personal and historical fallout of the American thirst for Uranium. Using experimental techniques and newly emerging tools to generate a conspiracy through generation and extraction of fabricated evidence, Seeing is Believing simultaneously questions the relationship between video and fact while building a new truth.

Enabled by cutting edge machine learning algorithms, the new tools we are using, such as highly realistic AI-generated texts and doctored video upend the idea of ‘truth’ in ‘video evidence’. We believe the uncanny realities these tools can be used to manufacture can be amplified by experimentation in generation and presentation. At this point in development, Seeing is Believing will be presented as a short film. Our goal is to feed and influence these generative computer models with curated data, which we use to influence the computer towards generating or extracting an idea or image. This allows the softwares we have chosen to extract and generate narratives, which we will curate and sequence into the final film.

Through the use of deepfake technologies we can revise moments in history to our intended effect. By swapping figures and ideas from the present with those from our recent past we can make effective insinuations, extrapolations, warnings, and premonitions about our near future. As Karen Baraud explains in her essay “No Small Matter”, Nuclear technologies defined the 20th century, affecting the planet and everyone on it on all perceivable levels - from cultural, to socio-political, to biological. Knowing that Artificial Intelligence will be the defining technology of the 21st century, it seems fair to assume that its benefits will be counterbalanced by inevitable and unpredictable fallout.