- MIT Open Learning/Center for Advanced Virtuality Team
In July 1969, much of the world celebrated the “giant leap for mankind” that the successful moon landing constituted. In 2020, nothing is quite so straightforward. In Event of Moon Disaster illustrates the possibilities of deepfake technologies by reimagining this seminal event. The immersive project invites you into this alternative history and asks us all to consider how new technologies can bend, redirect, and obfuscate the truth around us.
Using artificial intelligence to produce a deepfake of President Nixon was at the very core of our project concept, so our technical approach in some regards was decided right from the start. We wanted to show how synthetic media could be used to create disinformation as well as for new creative pursuits.
We built our site as a headless Wordpress installation using React and Gatsby. The result was a static and highly performant site that takes advantage of the flexibility of React to design the UI alongside the powerful Wordpress CMS to help manage the content. This combination has proven to be the best of both worlds for us.
This was our first project using synthetic media, so we did not know what to expect, but we had high hopes. We were not disappointed by the quality of our “complete deepfake” and its believability when inserted into a plausible, yet entirely fabricated, narrative arc.
It is a cliche to say that AI is changing everything; but it is a cliche for a reason. We learned in this project that AI isn’t going to make artists obsolete (thankfully!), but will offer more and more powerful tools and techniques that artists will be able to take advantage of to expand their creative potential. Much like cyborgs, artists will increasingly be able to work in concert with AI-based technologies to create in new and exciting ways.