Dear AI, can you pls bring back the memories that never were

There it is, that bad dream that somehow keeps coming back at times. Imagine waking up one day and not having network access, like none, no wi-fi, no LTE, no 5G, not even a single 3G thing. Nothing. All you can do is make a phone call, the old school way. Fair enough, we can work out the life again right? But, out of sudden you realize, all the stuff you collected, like photos, videos, shorts, fav music and movies are there, in the cloud and since you are out-of-network you have simply lost them. Scary! You’re probably thinking, I need to get some back up done (yeah right) or print out some of the most valuable pics, just in case. But, would they be safe if anything happens? They are your memories, right?! Well, worst come to worst, they won’t most probably. And this is not a bad dream anymore, but the harsh reality one of the artist we would like to introduce to you has gone through. This is Maria Mavropoulou and her story of how AI helped her bring back the lost family archive.

“My great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents changed the place of residency many times before I was born. Sometimes forcibly, sometimes at will. The photographs that documented the events of their lives were lost along the way. I don’t really know much about them, except for some stories I’ve been told about where they lived and what their profession was.”

Maria, took all the stories she heard and simply used them as prompts in an image-generating AI to rewrite her own history. Dating back to 2021, the process, as she says, turned out not only to be a truly emotional but also a very informative journey. By embracing AI, Mavropoulou found a way to bridge the gaps in her family history and reclaim a sense of connection to her past. Through the use of advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, she was able to piece together fragments of memories and reconstruct a comprehensive archive that captured the essence of her family’s story.

“The AI seemed to know more than I did about a specific place and time, adding details to images that I wasn’t aware of.”

The project “Imagined Images” focuses on the intersection of deeply personal human photography and AI-generated images. A few hundreds AI photographs emphasize the connection between words and images, highlighting the correlation between the two. Very powerful, very personal and incredibly well executed illustration of the times that never really were. Not to mention the look of it; amazing feel of the simple amateur family photography.

Read more about Maria’s story behind the ‘Imagined Images’ project and see the complete family album on her website here.

Maria Mavropoulou lives and works in Athens, Greece. She is a visual artist using mainly photography while her work expands to new forms of photographic images, such as VR and screen-captured images, GAN and AI-generated images. Read more about the incredible art of Maria here and follow her Instagram.