Through the Societal Looking-Glass

Dominik Vrabic Dezman (SI) is a researcher and media artist, based in Amsterdam, NL. He studied visual communication at Design Academy Eindhoven and the Royal Art Academy in The Hague. Currently, he is a graduate student in the departments of Philosophy and New Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Dominik’s practice revolves around digital images and interfaces, as their social presence ties into wider questions of social epistemology and ethics of image-making. Using web scraping as artistic research method, his work explores and addresses the ecosystems and media imaginaries surrounding digital and stock imagery.


Deep-blue visuals employed to represent ‘AI’ and other emergent technologies have flooded the mediasphere—the glowing imagery goes hand-in-hand with the sensationalised language employed to write about these new technologies. In liaison with the media, massive image platforms form sites of fabrication of the vision that permeates our social imaginary.

Through the Societal Looking-Glass proposes a set of methods to address public-facing digital images as objects of study. A continuous web scraper, exploratory interface, and physical installation mobilise a toolkit for examining trends in the public visual mediation of emergent technologies over time.

The project seeks to serve as an applied toolkit for digital researchers and as a cornerstone for communal reflections on the legitimacy of public image-making, the commercial image economy, and visual literacy in our digitally mediated present.

The top-ranking 100 images for given keyword ("artificial intelligence")
Raspberry Pi-powered NodeJS server and react front-end interface, with terminal...
The scraper interface indexes each unique image that appears in the dataset



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Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly integrated into global society – it is often referred to as the latest general-purpose technology. Significant advances in machine learning and proliferation of big data have resulted in a social climate sensitised towards AI’s exponential societal integration. Upon closer examination, an observable gap becomes clear between AI’s status quo of rapid social integration, and the hype in its mediated visuality.

The thesis questions and destabilises AI’s narrowly mediated public visuality. Every figuration of AI, a fundamentally non-visual technology, is inherently an artistic gesture – the agency and social responsibility of the designer are therefore increasingly crucial in mediating emergent concepts such as AI to the public. The focus of this essay is on the production and perpetuation of signification – image-producers, and platforms involved in the propagation of imagery surrounding AI. This essay attempts to trace the cultural authority that AI has taken on through its being-mediated-as-image. Lastly, the thesis proposes some possible future strategies and urgencies of desisting from the current problematic of sublime disclosure of emerging technologies, using AI as a central case study.