Masterclass: Deepfakes - Synthetic Media and Synthesis

  • Masterclass: Deepfakes - Synthetic Media and Synthesis 

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    Online masterclass by ThoughtWorks ARTS

    Deadline for submissions: October 15, 2020

    “Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.” ― Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (1981)

    Dates: 13 - 28 November, 2020 (for 1-3 hours, schedule may vary).
    Guided by Ellen Pearlman and Julien Dewaef,
    Via Zoom.
    The deadline for this open call is 15th of October.
    Costs: €80 (€45 student price – limited student spots available)

    Baltan Laboratoratories and ThoughtWorks Arts are offering the online masterclass on Synthetic Media in which participants will work and collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to prototype and develop a synthetic media project.

    Synthetic Media, most commonly known as “Deep Fakes” represents new vistas in speech, text, film, sound and interaction using both real and synthetic environments. The implications of these emerging technologies are vast, raising more questions than they answer. Will synthetic media propel us to new heights, or plunge us to unimaginable lows?

    Synthetic media, of which deepfakes is a manifestation, is a new type of simulacra. It builds on existing models creating even more convincing representations of things that are inherently reconstructed using sound, images, text, cinematic, virtual experiences.

    In the masterclass you will work in interdisciplinary teams to develop a synthetic media project. Guided by Ellen Pearlman and Julien Dewaef you will explore the possibilities of artificially generated media (moving images; synthetic photographs; motion capture; speech synthesis etc.) and explore innovative and artistic ways to deploy these strategies. Working virtually in interdisciplinary teams you will prototype and develop a synthetic media project.

    How to participate?

    This masterclass asks for artists, technologists, coders, dreamers, advocates, musicians, poets and others to apply with their best ideas.

    Describe a project idea you want to try, the technologies you’d like to get into, and/or the skills you have to contribute. If you are an artist and do not have tech skills, that is okay. Conversely, if you are a programmer and don’t have any compelling ideas, that is okay as well.

    --> If you have any special equipment or skills, we welcome you to tell us. When we receive your applications, we will match you up with others.

    We group people together around the most compelling proposals. This means your specific idea may not be selected, in which case we will try to find you a team and a project which matches your skills and interests. This is an ad-hoc process, and we can’t always match everybody to teams, but we work hard to create as many people as possible, create aligned teams. We have had great results from this process in the past.

    The co-working will take place between 13 November-28 November 2020, so please be available within that ranges of days. We will meet virtually on the 17, 18, 20, 24, 25, and 27 November, for between 1 - 3 hours, depending on the needs of each team.

    Preliminary working times, taking into account various time zones are 11 am - 1 pm in New York, which ranges between 17:00 and 20:00 in Europe, depending on your specific time zone. We welcome participation from individuals outside these times zones, but this is the general range of times we will be online.

    The first meeting on 13 November will be a virtual social where we will just get to know one another, with co-working sessions following in the days after that.


    Please send your application before October 15 to with your
    --> Full name, address, phone number, email
    --> Recent portfolio links & your specific skills (max 1 page.)
    --> Project idea (max 500 words)

    You will be informed about the selection before October 15th.

    About ThoughtWorks ARTS

    ThoughtWorks Arts incubates artists and technologist collaborations to investigate the impacts of emerging technologies on industry, culture and society.

    Dr. Ellen Pearlman is program director at ThoughtWorks Arts. She is a new media artist, critic, curator and writer who created Noor: A Brain Opera, the world’s first immersive interactive brain opera in a 360 degree theater and AIBO, an emotionally intelligent artificial intelligent brainwave opera. She is on the faculty of Parsons/New School University, and a Senior Researcher, Assistant Professor at RISEBA University in Riga, Latvia. Ellen is also President of Art-A-HackTM and Director and Curator of the New York Volumetric Society:

    Julien Deswaef is a software artist, experience designer and interface developer based in Barcelona. Active both in visual arts as well as in free / libre and open source culture, he has the ability to transform ideas into digital realities. He regularly collaborates with artists in the world of entertainment, music and fine arts. His art practice usually questions copyright, authorship and the impact of technology on our society through generative graphics and social media bots.

    About Baltan Laboratories

    Baltan initiated experimentation on the crossroads of art, design, science and technology, evoking inquisitive ideas and insights by bridging the gaps between disciplines. The lab functions as a collaborative mindset and network, connecting curious individuals and organizations.

    Homo Sensorium

    This workshop is part of Homo Sensorium, in which Baltan interrogates the blurring borders between synthetic and organic, the real and the virtual, the human and machine, sense and perception.

    This initiative is kindly supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, Provincie Noord-Brabant and Stichting Cultuur Eindhoven


    Watch video interview with Ellen Pearlman:

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