I see. I can see you’re tired of living here, 2015/2021

Ezz Monem

18 - 22 May 2021

Monem began this series in 2015, the last year that he lived in Egypt before moving to Australia. It takes as its starting point a group of photographs taken inside Egypt. In collaboration with Google Image search and artificial intelligence tools, he replicates, translates, and transforms these images. The resulting works represent two lives, at once congruous and at odds, and the literal and metaphorical movement between them. How does his recreated life resemble his past life? How might visual similarities obscure emotional rifts? What mistakes and mistranslations happen in the interstices?

For the series, Monem uploaded his images to Google and used them to search for similar images. Without taking time to consider source or context, he rapidly selected an image from each set of results, paying exclusive attention to visual similarities. Later, he used Google’s Vision AI to perform a machine analysis of each of my images. The tool detects the elements that make up each photograph, and returns the results as a set of text descriptions. In this second act of translation, he again attempted to re-enact moments of his past life in the context of his new one.

The series’ title is excerpted from a text generated by a DeepAI tool, in response to the question, “Hey G, what do you see?” It sees that he’s tired, but the question remains—of which life? The one he left, or the one he’s living now?