Why it matters: Surrealist artist and self-described madman Salvador Dalí famously denied his own death, claiming that his art and personality would persist. Three decades later, the Dalí Museum has fulfilled his prophecy with a stunning deepfake that captures his eccentricities and provides a convincing, personalized experience.
Dalí was a man that lived beyond his art, even once exclaiming, “painting is an infinitely minute part of my personality.” And what a personality it was: full of ambition; obsessed with the subconscious and its links with dreams, hallucinations, religion, eroticism, and gender; dangerously narcissistic; and possibly psychopathic. Experiences with the man are something well remembered, and he is an admirably appropriate target to be chosen for revival.
Dalí’s life-size deepfake will provide visitors with a deeper understanding of his personality and art, via interactive discussions and pre-scripted monologues. All in all, his deepfake can produce 45 minutes of content in 190,512 possible combinations of phrases and decisions, providing each visitor or group with a unique experience.
The technical side of the exhibition was built by advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners using 6,000 frames of Dalí taken from historic footage and 1,000 hours of machine learning. Experts analyzed his quotes, speeches, and autobiography to build an accurately simulated personality, which was digitally imprinted onto an actor producing 125 different videos. Each video is also interactive in a sense, as Dalí might be found reading the latest New York Times paper or commenting on the day’s weather.
“Dalí was prophetic in many ways and understood his historical importance,” says Dr. Hank Hine, executive director at The Dalí Museum. “He wrote, If someday I may die, though it is unlikely, I hope the people in the cafes will say, ‘Dali has died, but not entirely.’ This technology lets visitors experience his bigger-than-life personality in addition to our unparalleled collection of his works.”
As a humorous nod to the times, Dalí also takes a selfie with visitors at the end of their discussion. He even sends it to their phones as well.
Dalí becomes a resident of the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida today, on what would have been his 115th birthday. Happy birthday, Dalí.