politics and poetry of cinema


How can film and machine learning work together to deliver poetic and socially impactful stories?

• TBD Summer 2022
• Based in Berlin, Germany
• Four weeks, full-time
• Small class of participants

Artist / Student (Full Time)*
€1825 early fee**, €2195 regular fee

€1955 early fee**, €2395 regular fee

€2125 early fee**, €2595 regular fee

Early fees until 19. July


Film, in its ability to evoke empathy and action in an audience, can bring narrative and soul to the often cold sterility of technology. But what can technology, specifically machine learning, offer in return?

As deepfake technology ripples ubiquitously through our newsfeed, we increasingly turn a sceptical eye to the media we are consuming online. In this experimental class we want to put machine learning technology into the hands of artists in order to reclaim and reappropriate it as a tool for creating empowering political and social commentary. What is the potential for machine learning assisted filmmaking to become its own art form, providing an unexpected new language to poetically provocate on the world around us?

In this program, we will start with filmmaking as a visual art form and political tool in its own right. What aspects of a story make a film political? Is the personal always political? These discussions set the foundation and will carry on throughout our month together as we hear from filmmakers with their own unique perspectives and bodies of work.

Additionally, throughout the month you will learn a range of techniques involving generating and manipulating images of human bodies and faces, including creating imaginary people and deepfakes, compositing them into other images or video, as well as making them talk with audio speech generation. In parallel to technical teaching, we will be hosting a guest lecture series, inviting filmmakers from around the world to share their experiences of using cinema as a political tool.

The goal is to provide the inspiration and tools for participants to begin telling their own stories, using computer assisted filmmaking to build connections and create communities in the face of structural injustices. How can empathy splinter out of the screen and into social action?

in this course,
you will be
introduced to

  • Creative and critical perspectives on machine learning
  • Theory, tools and frameworks for using machine learning with moving images
  • How to split, reassemble and organise videos and images using python
  • How to generate images and voices using deepfakes, style transfer and image synthesis
  • How to use face detection, segmentation and classification models to process images and extract information from video data.
  • How to composite, edit and render videos using Blender.
  • An opportunity for introspection and self-reflection with others
  • Professional development for artists and creatives
  • Exciting humans working in the field
  • Critical and conceptual development of projects to be exhibited in a final group showcase
  • A variety of guest speakers with different perspectives and relevant practices
  • An amazing network and community of like-minded creative beings and potential future collaborators

course outline

Week 1: We will begin by getting to know everyone, understanding what drives each other and our motivations for joining the class. Guest speakers will introduce participants to key themes and references, kickstarting the class with fresh perspectives on politics and filmmaking and the potential and future of AI driven filmmaking that will set a foundation for coming weeks.

Week 2: This week will feature a hands-on introduction to programming in Python. Participants will learn how to construct, deconstruct and process batches of images and videos. With this knowledge we will start to explore specific techniques for manipulating videos and images, including, creating imaginary people, deepfakes and style transfer.

The lecture series continues, supported by discursive sessions around the ethics of deepfake technology, prompting a collective imagining of the technoscientific futures we want to be a part of.

We will continue discussions which began in week one about the craft of storytelling for film, beginning to contruct narratives that will lead towards a final project. 

Week 3: In week 3, we embark on collaborative work and begin capturing our stories. Additionally, participants will be introduced to using Blender as a tool to composite generated assets with other images or video. We will also explore making our images talk with audio speech generation.

Week 4: This week sees the final development of your personal and collaborative projects, culminating in a group screening at programs end to celebrate this month-long experimental journey and works produced during this time.

who is this
program for?

This program invites artists, designers, creatives, technologists, filmmakers, writers, researchers, journalists, activists, and anyone with a curiosity to think critically about the ever-evolving relationship between filmmaking and machine learning to connect and collaborate with a group of like-minded creators. No prior experience needed.