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RT Creative Lab has recreated Russian avant-garde and modern photography legend Alexander Rodchenko in a deepfake video masterclass series dedicated to Vkhutemas’ centenary and on the eve of his 130th birthday.

Rodchenko.LIVE is a series of deepfake videos in which the artist talks about the legacy of the visionary Russian art and design school Vkhutemas (the top art and technical studios) – the Soviet counterpart of the German Bauhaus . Rodchenko taught construction and ironwork to Vkhutemas, a pioneer of design ideas in Russia.

Vkhutemas was established shortly after the Russian Revolution of 1917, after which the monarchy was abolished. It was conceived as an institution that would prepare artists and craftsmen with the aim of achieving the goals of efficiency and production of the state. But its legacy was short-lived – in 1930 it was closed for good and its teachers purged.

Rodchenko.LIVE will consist of four videos, which will be released in 2021-2022. In the first episode, “Experiences for the Future”, Rodchenko gives an introductory talk about his life and the creation of a new type of craftsman in Vkhutemas.

“The Rodchenko.LIVE project is a meeting point of several types of art: AI technology, theatrical performance, design animation, cinematography and music design. In fact, we have a kind of educational digital one-man show. It seems to me that for the first time in history, deepfake and machine learning technologies have been successfully applied to create a full-fledged video series with lectures from a real historical figure ”, says Kirill Karnovich-Valua, Creative Director of RT Creative Lab.

The project was developed in collaboration with the Creative Development Department of RT, Director Alexander Scryabin and Phygitalism – company-developer of visual solutions based on artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality.

Rodchenko was recreated in the video using deepfake algorithms, a technology to synthesize an image with artificial intelligence. The project is unique because only a few historical photographs have been used.

“Our task was to create several deepfake videos with Rodchenko totaling around 40 minutes in length and with 4K resolution, with only a few photos suitable for this purpose. In comparison, the Dalí Lives project used over 6,000 images. , which were obtained from videos selected with Salvador Dali ”, explains Denis Leonov, project manager of Phygitalism.

Rodchenko.LIVE’s scripts are based on diaries, memoirs, personal letters, program and the art of the avant-garde artist. Some materials were donated to the project by Rodchenko’s grandson, Alexander Lavrentiev, an academic and professor at the Stroganov Academy.

“De facto, we did not have any fragments of archival films nor a large number of photographic documents, we recomposed the image of the artist – as we imagined it after studying archives, memories , read interviews with relatives and descendants. says Alexander Skryabin, director of the Rodchenko.LIVE project.

“In choosing actors for the role of Rodchenko, we were not only aiming to find the most anatomically similar person (a basic requirement for the deepfake), we were also looking for an academic utterance and a certain plasticity that would complement the performance. and the artist’s narration, and therefore eliminate its artificiality in the frame. An original costume, shoes and other accessories made from historical photographs, as well as such small details (cap, pipe, cup holder) significantly complemented his image.

The video series is part of a larger project called Vkhutemas.academy which aims to revive the legacy of the visionary art school using contemporary media formats. The site will soon be available in English.

RT Creative Lab is an in-house Emmy nominated digital team within the international RT news network.

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