Deepfake Videos and the Remixing of Everyday Life

8 December 2022 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
University of Westminster - Room C1.09 Copland
115 New Cavendish St
London W1W 6UW

Speaker: Graham Meikle (University of Westminster)

NOTE: This event is held at 115 New Cavendish St, London W1W 6UW, UK

Synthetic media are texts created or significantly altered with AI techniques. Deepfakes are the most prominent examples of synthetic media so far. This seminar will give an overview of the key uses of deepfakes. It will argue that deepfake videos are not just significant in their own right, but that they also offer important insights into the wider digital media environment of the 2020s. Deepfakes did not just happen to emerge in the time of social media, but are a product of those media. The limitless datasets of images, video, text and audio that we have created through two decades of sharing on social media platforms have become raw material that enable machine-learning researchers to train AI systems to recognise, classify and create images for use in synthetic media.

Deepfakes are about creating something new from existing material, so one way of approaching deepfakes is to connect them with wider currents of remix creativity. This paper introduces deepfakes by contrasting two important remix art projects: one from the emergent phase of remix cultures at the start of the twenty-first century (Rebirth of a Nation by Paul D. Miller), the other from the emergent phase of deepfakes at the start of the 2020s (Warriors by James Coupe). This comparison highlights how contemporary synthetic media practices take the individual as the found material for remix. What gets remixed today is not just old movies or music, but all of us.



Graham Meikle is Professor of Communication and Digital Media at the University of Westminster, and Director of its Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). He is a National Teaching Fellow, and has directed Westminster’s MA in Social Media and Digital Communication since 2013. Graham has published eight books, including Deepfakes (Polity 2022), The Internet of Things (with Mercedes Bunz, Polity 2018), The Routledge Companion to Media and Activism (editor, 2018) and Future Active (Routledge 2002).