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Salaf (Arabic: Ancestor)

Salaf (Arabic: Ancestor)

Date(s) - 03/21/2024 - 07/27/2024
4:30 pm - 7:30 pm

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East Window Gallery


Free to Attend USD
Contact Person:


Boulder County Arts Alliance

Salaf ( Arabic: Ancestor) Expo Promotional Image



Artist Talk

May 10th 2024


Nouf Aljowaysir in person

I began following the migrational patterns of my Saudi and Iraqi ancestors leading up to my own migration process to the US. I interviewed family members and studied the socio-cultural events transpiring in their distant memories and anecdotes. Through this process, I traced my lineage to the 1800s and began experimenting in re-imagining the past using Generative AI models.

In one particular experiment, it tagged most of my images with arcane modern-day warfare labels such as “soldier, “army”, and “military uniform”. AI generalized how it sees me and generations of family before me. I discovered that my collection of stories were being erased and stereotyped as one big pile of “Middle East”.

SALAF symbolizes those AI failures and the frustrations I felt in the Western colonial gaze, and the lack of native localized self-expression. Using U-2 Net, an image segmentation model that partitions a digital image into multiple segments, I erased the ‘oriental’ stereotypical figures in my historical archives, creating an “absent” dataset. I then trained StyleGAN2, a generative AI model on this new dataset, outputting images signifying the eradication of her ancestor’s collective memory.

Nouf Aljowaysir

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