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Currently Showing: SALAF (Ancestor) Photography / Installation by Nouf Aljowaysir

April 7 - July 8


March 21st – July 27th 2024

SALAF (Ancestor)

Photography / Installation by Nouf Aljowaysir

A series of visual portraits symbolizing the limitations and failures of artificial intelligence in reconstructing and interpreting the artist’s identity.

In the summer of 2020, Nouf Aljowaysir began exploring her genealogical journey through a personal and an Al lens. She interviewed family members and began following the migrational patterns of her ancestors across Arabia and Mesopotamia spanning five generations.

While researching and collecting digital archives relevant to her family’s stories, Aljowaysir discovered that the only visual records lacked indigenous self-expression, and emanated from a British Empire that purposefully crafted the East (ie, the “Orient” or “Other”) to be exploited and controlled. As Aljowaysir tested these images with computer vision Al models, this process revealed “failures” manifested as mislabeling, generalizations, and stereotypes. They failed to recognize the majority of veiled women as women. They haphazardly tagged several bedouin images with modern-day warfare labels such as “soldier, “army,” and “military uniform,” confidently asserting high confidence values in their evaluations. These “failures” uncovered not only the prejudice systemically-embedded within commercial Al tools, but the broader problematic results that arise from using a historical training dataset that lacks an understanding of “Middle Eastern” imagery.

Salaf symbolizes the artist’s frustrations with the Western colonial gaze and the lack of native localized self-expression. Aljowaysir deliberately erased the oriental stereotypical figures from her datasets, using an Al segmentation. technique called U-2 Net, and trained an Al on this absent dataset. These deliberate reversals of technology’s functions symbolize the erasure of her ancestors’ collective memory while confronting Al’s reduction of history and identity.


Nouf Aljowaysir is a Saudi new media artist based in Brooklyn. Her work examines the underlying logic of Al systems from a personal and intimate lens. She has exhibited projects in galleries and festivals globally, including the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Tribeca Film Festival, Centre Pompidou and others. Aljowaysir has been awarded residencies at ThoughtWorks Arts in NYC and Somerset House in London. At Somerset House, she created her latest work, Ana Min Wein? (Where am I From?), which recently won the Lumen Prize in the Moving Image category.


April 7
July 8
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East Window & Gallery
4550 Broadway, STE C-3B2
Boulder, CO 80304 United States
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