Projektmodul / Project Module
Synthetic Media for Parallel Hyperrealities
Instructor: Vertr.-Prof. Jason Reizner
Credits: 18 ECTS, 16 SWS
Capacity: max. 12 students
Language: English
Date: Plenum: Tuesdays, 13:30-17:00; Consultations by appointment
Location: Online/Marienstraße 7b
First Meeting: 12 April 2022, 13:30 on BBB
(Link to online meeting will be sent to accepted participants by email.)
BISON Course ID: [TBA]


The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth
– it is the truth which conceals that there is none.
The simulacrum is true.

– Jean Baudrillard, Simulacres et Simulation, 1981

In a world where machines have become more than capable of autonomously generating (seemingly) credible newspaper articles, danceable techno tracks, adorable cat memes and plausible Nicolas Cage videos, the ability to algorithmically produce and transform digital media forms – so-called deepfakes – has arrived on the desktops and devices of millions. This project module focuses not on the demise of the distinction between real and rendered, but on a future where this distinction becomes increasingly blurred and irrelevant.

Through a series of lectures, workshops and targeted discussions, participants will address topics including human and artificial intelligence, generative and autonomous systems, supervised and unsupervised machine learning, neural networks, GANs and hyperreality, and will engage with state-of-the-art tools and methodologies for the synthetic production of text, images and audiovisual media.

Admission requirements

Enrollment in MKGMedienkunst/Mediengestaltung/MAD MFAMaster of Fine Arts – graduate students will receive this degree or MediaArchitecture MSc programs

Application and registration procedure

Application with CV1. [[Tracking Motion Detection|Computer Vision]], 2. [[wikipedia:Curriculum vitae]] and Statement of Motivation to jason.reizner [ät]


Successful completion of the course is dependent on regular attendance, active participation, completion of assignments and delivery of a relevant semester prototype and documentation. Please refer to the Evaluation Rubric for more details.

Eligible participants

MFAMaster of Fine Arts – graduate students will receive this degree Medienkunst/-gestaltung, MFAMaster of Fine Arts – graduate students will receive this degree Media Art and Design, MSc MediaArchitecture candidates

Platforms and Tools

This WikiHaiwaiian for ''fast'' (not an acronym). It is the name for a hypertext system for websites where the user may not only read the content but is also able to change it instantaneously through the browser.
BigBlueButton (only as necessary)
Cisco WebEx
Google Jamboard

Syllabus (subject to change)

12 April 2022 / Week 1
Course Organization
Administrative Housekeeping

Assignment: If you have not done so already, for next week please review the following chapter:
"Simulacra and Simulations" by Jean Baudrillard
and prepare for next week's experiment 'New Identity, Who Dis?' by adding your GAN-generated avatar and persona profile to the Miro board

19 April 2022 / Week 2
Fake Synthetic Media
Speculative Narratives

Assignment: Please watch F for Fake (Orson Welles, 1975) and complete part II of the avatar experiment as discussed in class. Be ready to talk for two or three minutes about your preliminary project ideas during next week's roundtable.

26 April 2022 / Week 3
Project Roundtable I

Assignment: For next week, please review the following texts: "Machine learning, explained" by Sara Brown and "What is Machine Learning (ML)?" from the Berkeley School of Information, and view "Deep Learning Basics: Introduction and Overview" from Lex Fridman (accompanying slides available here). Finally, in reflection of today's roundtable discussion, you should add your visual connection element(s) to and from your avatar on the Miro board.

3 May 2022 / Week 4
From Machine Learning to Machine Intelligence
Algorithmic, Computational & Generative Forms

Assignment: Please review the following texts: "Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid" by Jonathan Haidt and "The Cause of America's Post-Truth Predicament" by Andy Norman. Also, in preparation for next week's guest lecture have a look at the following video: "Watch People Realize they're ACTUALLY talking to a DEEPFAKE" from Corridor Crew.

10 May 2022 / Week 5
Guest Lecture with Prof. Mario Verdicchio, University of Bergamo (IT)
We have always lived in a post-truth era.

Deepfakes are videos created by means of machine learning techniques that allow for audiovisuals that depict people in a very realistic, almost impossible to detect yet fake way, while they say and do things that they did not say or do in reality. This has a plethora of potentially dangerous epistemological and ethical consequences. Since deepfakes are a novelty, these issues may appear to stem from the latest technologies, but this seeming attack against the truth has always been there, ever since humans started recording facts. This lecture analyses the technological aspects of deepfakes to show that they are simply the most recent embodiment of a gap between facts and descriptions that is as old as humanity.

Assignment: Please review the following texts: [ "Improving Language Understanding by Generative Pre-Training"] by Alec Radford et al., "A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?" from the Guardian, and "AI Can Write Disinformation Now—and Dupe Human Readers" by Will Knight.

17 May 2022 / Week 6
GPT Lab (Live In Physicality!)

Assignment: For next week, please finish preparing your midterm presentations and be ready to talk about the current state of your work for 10-15 minutes.

24 May 2022 / Week 7
Midterm Presentations

Assignment: Please prepare your GPT text strings for use in next week's GAN Lab.

31 May 2022 / Week 8

Assignment: Continuing your experiments with VQGAN/CLIP from today's demo, please produce two or three short videos and be ready to present them next week.

7 June 2022 / Week 9
Deepfake Lab I

Assignment: Please upload your VQGAN/CLIP videos along with your input text prompts to the UniCloud folder shared in class.

14 June 2022 / Week 10
Deepfake Lab II
Attention: This week online!

Assignment: Continue working on your semester projects and be ready to bring your tools/parts/code to next week's debug lab.

21 June 2022 / Week 11
Debug Lab
In-person and hybrid on BBB

Assignment: For next week, please review the following texts: "Here Come The Smart Citizens" by Drew Hemment and Anthony Townsend, "Recuperating the Smart City" by Adam Greenfield and "Connecting Cities and Its Citizens Through Artistic Urban Media Scenarios" by Susa Pop here:

28 June 2022 / Week 12
Guest Lecture and Workshop with Pablo Silva Saray (architect, Halle/Saale), Panayotis Antoniadis (NEWROPE, ETH Zürich) and Chaal Chaal Agency (CEPT University, Ahmedabad)
Agency & Participation through People & Places (online on BBB at 16:00)

The deficiency and scarcity of spaces for collaboration and free exercise of collective rituals required by any community may be rooted in the negligence and incapacity of the administration entities in charge of its planning and supply. These circumstances lead many of these communities and their Actors to take responsibility for these spatial constructions, many in precarious conditions but not short of understanding or initiative.

As External Actors of such groups, some planning practitioners can play a role in creating the institutional support needed for collective learning, spatial intervention, and design. However, those who wish to contribute to such collective projects must be aware of incoherent positions within the dynamics of the social groups that make up the collective. Thus, a distant and abstract understanding of the dilemmas and concerns of the communities does not contribute to the required project solutions.

Therefore, establishing study parameters joined by the community infrastructural or collective projects of different scales must be a central objective for any External Actor. Such parameters must seek to include the representative groups that make up the community, but that inclusion cannot be only in name or through simple statistical methods; on the contrary, the parameters must nourish active and committed participation.

Finding the elements that foster collaboration and commitment amid seemingly alien activities makes it possible to make community participation a study exercise. Thus, through diverse strategies, it is possible to understand the constant dynamics of the community and abstract them into mechanisms that collectively raise questions about the faced challenges. Furthermore, within this paradigm of emerging tools, citizens -as core participants and constructors of the city- are continuously evolving through these networks and in order to take active roles as open, resilient, and smart citizens (Barns 2020; Hemment and Townsend 2013).

Assignment: TBA

5 July 2022 / Week 13
Guest Workshop with Paola Bonetto Ferrari
Archive of dissensus (in person)

Assignment: TBA

12 July 2022 / Week 14
Final Presentations