Ancestor gallery or utopia: pictures of people who have not yet been born?

Text Corinna Heumann / Illustration: numbers(e)motion, cpf.

The art of the futuristic portrait

Conceptual art physicist Christiane Pacyna-Friese depicts people living in a future, their talents and attitudes towards life in sound images.

A touchable future society

These abstract portraits or sound images present people who could actually live. The future can be experienced with them. It is an enthusiastic, albeit critical look at our digital future and the possible technical and scientific achievements. We are reflected in these fictitious people, our possible descendants, in their and our entire diversity and emotionality. They are young or old, women or men, intellectuals, craftsmen or engineers, and live varied sexual lifestyles. They are very different in their horizons of experience, knowledge and origin. Their preferences are presented with their possibilities, dreams and very real living conditions, freed from anecdotal attributes of conventional science fiction projections.

Franziska Einstein comes from a famous family and will only see the light of day in a hundred years

It is characterized by a critical attitude towards technology: Technology is no substitute for life. Preserve your human qualities! She fears that all the smart helpers and developments in public and private space will lead to a loss of individuality and critical mind. Instead, she assumes that technical algorithms are so powerful that they can transform the physical ego to the level of a mere image on the net.

Transformation Methodology

For each sound image, data of physical realities are transferred to the digital level and processed using number systems such as prime numbers. The fictitious descendants of our contemporaries or historical personalities have names and a family tree. As a descendant of Friedrich Engels, Jonah Engels will be born in Wuppertal in 100 years. Equipped with virus detection sensors, he lives very protected with his disease firewall.

The great-granddaughter of the famous artist and museum founder Marianne Pitzen

Jule Pitzen will be born in Bonn in a hundred years. Her great-grandmother, the famous feminist and museum founder Marianne Pitzen, will always be a role model for her. She uses the possibility to overcome borders by wearing a chip on her ear, which is able to translate thoughts and heard simultaneously into many languages. This enables her to move around the world without communication barriers.

Not only portraits of ancestors, but also of citizens of Digitopia in 100 years.

The first fictitious portrait of Edmond de Belamy generated with artificial intelligence was conceived with a view backwards, based on data from Western portrait painting between the 14th and 20th centuries, and auctioned at Christie’s on 25 October 2018. The artist, on the other hand, uses real data sets to create portraits of people who will live in the future. Through their concrete family affiliation they become emotionally tangible.

These portraits inspire our imagination. These unborn people could actually be citizens of a Digitopia in 100 years. Pacyna-Friese’s sound pictures become portraits: They affect the viewer through their respective colour tones and the dynamics of the variety of forms, as well as in their arrangement as individual as independent personalities.

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