Have you ever wondered what famous historical figures like Nefertiti and Cleopatra looked like in real life? Well, Bas Uterwijk might be able to show you a pretty good guess. The Dutch photographer and digital artist creates amazing AI portraits of famous historical figures using innovative neural network reconstructions. His most recent additions to the ongoing series transport viewers to ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and 18th-century Europe, among other time periods.
To create these portraits, Uterwijk uploads numerous references of the person's likeness to the AI applications. Then, he makes small adjustments to the program until he is satisfied with the result. “These ‘Deep Learning' networks are trained with thousands of photographs of human faces and are able to create near-photorealistic people from scratch or fit uploaded faces in a ‘Latent Space' of a total of everything the model has learned,” Uterwijk explains. “I think the human face hasn't changed dramatically over thousands of years and apart from hairstyles and makeup, people that lived long ago probably looked very much like us, but we are used to seeing them in the often distorted styles of ancient art forms that existed long before the invention of photography.”
Not only does he reimagine real-life royals such as Tutankhamun and Elizabeth I in realistic portraits, but he also applies his digital manipulations to famous works of art, including Michelangelo's David sculpture and Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting. “Just as photography changed the shape of classical painting, techniques based on artificial intelligence will start influencing and inspiring art and (post-)photography,” Uterwijk continues. “AI applications are developing at an incredible speed and it will influence almost all segments of our society.”