Oil paintings, Stylegan algorithm, 2019

Dangerous Female Creatures Living in The Deep is a continuation of Albena Baeva’s exploration into artificial intelligence. The work was awarded the Bulgarian Find fro Women Everything is Fine award in 2019. It was first presented as part of the group exhibition of all the awarded artists Everything’s Right at gallery Doza in 2020. The show remained closed during the entire period because of governmental measures against  Covid-19 pandemia.

It is not easy to describe the images we see in the series Dangerous Female Creatures, Living in the Deep by Albena Baeva; are they portraits, human figures, women in urban environments? Baeva has trained a Stylegan generative neural network with a custom dataset that includes images of women along with sea creatures. The aim is to train the network to create images that resemble the training material. The lack of homogeneity of the training material causes the network to generate confused images.

Baeva selects precisely these “mistakes” for further treatment. The selected images are transferred to oil paint, in the process of which the artist attempts to recreate the materiality of the selected, generated digital images. A separate algorithm is then used to analyse the generated images. This algorithm tries to understand each image and describe it in a short text. This way the dialogue between machine and artist is the result of and a reaction to 60.000 documentary photographs that have been downloaded from the internet. The sequence of translations that the images in this series went through, affords us a new look at the source material in our search for a portrait of women today.

The work was supported by Technical University Sofia Telilab, and Everything is Fine commission by Bulgarian Fund for Women in 2019.

Dangerous Female Creatures, Living in the Deep was acquired by Art Collection Telecom in 2022.

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