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Synthography – An Invitation to Reconsider the Rapidly Changing Toolkit of Digital Image Creation as a New Genre Beyond Photography

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ArtsIT, Interactivity and Game Creation (ArtsIT 2021)


With the comprehensive application of Artificial Intelligence into the creation and post production of images, it seems questionable if the resulting visualisations can still be considered ‘photographs’ in a classical sense – drawing with light. Automation has been part of the popular strain of photography since its inception, but even the amateurs with only basic knowledge of the craft could understand themselves as author of their images. We state a legitimation crisis for the current usage of the term. This paper is an invitation to consider Synthography as a term for a new genre for image production based on AI, observing the current occurrence and implementation in consumer cameras and post-production.

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  1. 1.

    φωτός (phōtós) is the genitive of φῶς (phōs), light and γραφή (graphé), drawing.

  2. 2.

    Although other terms like computational photography have been used, I argue that synthography for the detailed subset is more appropriate.

  3. 3.

    σύνθεσις (súnthesis), in its original meaning putting together, construct, compound. From 1874 onwards used in reference to products or materials made artificially and from 1934 established as a noun for ‘synthetic material’.

  4. 4.

    “[A]lthough Facebook will delete data on more than a billion faces, the company will retain DeepFace, the AI model trained with that data. […] The deep learning model was created in 2014 with 4 million images from 4,000 people, the largest dataset of people’s faces to date.” Kari Johnson, Facebook Drops Facial Recognition to Tag People in Photos


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Correspondence to Elke Reinhuber .

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Reinhuber, E. (2022). Synthography – An Invitation to Reconsider the Rapidly Changing Toolkit of Digital Image Creation as a New Genre Beyond Photography. In: Wölfel, M., Bernhardt, J., Thiel, S. (eds) ArtsIT, Interactivity and Game Creation. ArtsIT 2021. Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, vol 422. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-95530-4

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