Legendary Russian avant-garde artist comes to life in deepfake masterclass video — Analysis

RT Creative Lab reproduces Alexander Rodchenko, the Russian avant-garde photographer and legend of modern Russian photography in a series of deepfake videos masterclasses. This video was created to commemorate the centenary Vkhutemas as well as 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 Higher Art and Technical Studios) – the Soviet counterpart of the German Bauhaus. Rodchenko, who was the pioneer of design in Russia through his teachings on construction and metalwork at Vkhutemas.

Vkhutemas was founded shortly after 1917’s Russian Revolution. The monarchy was then abolished. It was conceived as an institution that would prepare artists and craftsmen with the aim of fulfilling the state’s goals for efficiency and production. But its legacy was short-lived – in 1930 it was closed permanently and its professors purged. 

Rodchenko.LIVE is a series of four videos that will be available in 2021-2022. In the first episode, ‘Experiments for Future’, Rodchenko gives an introductory talk about his life and the creation of a new type of craftsman at Vkhutemas.

“Rodchenko.LIVE project is a meeting point of several types of art – AI technology, theatrical performance, design animation, cinematography, and musical design. Actually, this is a type of an educational digital one-man show. It seems to me that for the first time in history deepfake and machine learning technologies were successfully applied to create a full-fledged video series with lectures from a real historical person,”Kirill Karnovich Valua is the creative director at RT Creative Lab.

The project was developed together with RT’s creative development department, 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 for synthesizing an image with artificial intelligence. This project is unusual because it only used several historical photographs.

“Our task was to create several deepfake videos with Rodchenko with a total duration of about 40 minutes and with 4K resolution, having only a few photos fit for this purpose. In comparison, the Dalí Lives project used over 6,000 images, which were obtained from selected videos with Salvador Dali,”Denis Leonov is the project manager at Phygitalism.

Rodchenko.LIVE scripts are inspired by diaries, letters and memoirs of Rodchenko.LIVE, as well as curriculums and artworks from the avant-garde artists. Some materials were donated to the project by Rodchenko’s grandson, Alexander Lavrentiev, a schol­ar and pro­fess­or at the Strogan­ov Academy. 

“De facto we didn’t have any archival film fragments or significant number of photo documents, we re-composed the image of the artist – as we imagined him after studying archives, memoirs, reading interviews with relatives and descendants,”Alexander Skryabin (director of Rodchenko.LIVE) said this.

“While casting actors for Rodchenko’s role, we aimed to not just find the most anatomically similar person (a basic requirement for deepfake), we were also looking for academic enunciation and certain plasticity which would complement the artist’s representation and narration, and as a result would eliminate his artificiality in the frame. Original costume, shoes, and other accessories which were made based on historical photographs, as well as such small details (cap, pipe, cup holder) significantly complemented his image.” 

This video is part of, a bigger project that seeks to revitalize the visionary school of art using modern media formats. This website will soon be translated into English. 

RT Creative Lab, an Emmy-nominated digital team in the RT international news network’s global news service, is part of the RT International News Network.

Keep up-to-date with our latest projects Check out RT Creative Lab’s website. Follow RT Creative Lab on social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vimeo. 



Related Articles

Back to top button