JAMES COUPE
art projects
Warriors: War
Categories: Art

Exhibition: Exhibited at International Center of Photography , New York City,
January 23 – May 17, 2020
Materials: 2-channel video monitors, computers, iPads, cameras
Description: This work uses an excerpt from Walter Hill’s 1979 cult movie The Warriors, as the remaining Warriors embark on the final stretch of their subway journey to Coney Island, and encounter two affluent white couples dressed in formal attire. The Warriors’ leader, Swan, and his female companion, Mercy, both filthy and beat-up in the aftermath of a gang battle, are positioned as dingy mirror-images to the lily-white, cleancut couples across the subway car.

These double-dating yuppies are among the few characters featured in the film who are neither gang members nor police officers. They function as a reminder that an even larger rival “gang” dominates the city: the wealthy, putting the focus on class antagonism and urban gentrification.

War uses AI classifiers to profile visitors’ faces based on demographic, economic and occupational markers, and then uses a customized version of the notorious Deepfakes algorithm to switch visitors’ faces into the film, in place of the original characters. Faces swap at a variety of speeds and resolutions, and do not attempt to be seamless in all cases. AI classifiers such as ImageNet are well-known for their inherent bias in the assignment of class markers such as profession, economic status and culture. These biases are drawn out in War, as certain visitors find themselves swapped with The Warriors gang, others with the affluent couples on the opposite side of the subway car.

Credits: With thanks to the Center for Digital Art and Experimental Media (DXARTS), University of Washington. Software development by Jacob Fennell, Forrest Fabian Jesse and Yuying Hung.
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Categories: Art -