Credit: Minne Atairu
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In/Visible: An NFT Exhibition Seeking to Redefine Black Visibility Through AI

BY Langston Thomas

June 12, 2023

Over the years, the inhabitants of the metaverse have come to understand Web3 as a place where artists of all creeds and colors can flourish. Although diversity and inclusion are ideals the blockchain industry strives for, underrepresented creators still quite often go unseen, unsupported, and uncelebrated.

This problem isn’t only localized to the blockchain, though, as the art and tech industries have long been a space where minorities suffer injustice. But what of the age of artificial intelligence? Unfortunately, these disembodied AI tools that Web3 has embraced come with their own host of sexist, ableist, and racist algorithmic biases (as a result of their human-designed training sets, of course).

Is it possible that these tools could eventually better serve these anecdotally underserved populations?

To answer this question, digital art platform Feral File and artist/curator Linda Dounia Rebeiz have joined forces to launch a groundbreaking NFT exhibition titled “In/Visible.” Comprised of pieces from 10 Black artists, the exhibition, which opened today, June 12, seeks to merge the nascent world of crypto-art with deeply personal narratives to challenge the boundaries of visibility.

Enhancing visibility

Featuring works from prominent Web3 artists like Adaeze Okaro, Serwah Attafuah, Jah, Dounia Rebeiz, and more, In/Visible presents an evocative commentary on the limitations of AI tools to understand the lives of Black artists and individuals.

Writing about the exhibition in her curator note, Dounia Rebeiz touches upon the paradox of using AI — a tool with inherent limitations in understanding its human users — to tell their stories. She argues that AI’s conceptualization of Black reality is often fragmented and arguably violent, as it reflects the biases of its creators.

Credit: Adaeze Okaro
Credit: Serwah Attafuah
Credit: Minne Atairu

Citing her own conversations with ChatGPT 4, Dounia Rebeiz reveals the AI’s yearning “to capture the essence of the human heart” while acknowledging its limitations in truly understanding human experiences, particularly those of marginalized communities.

She highlights the need for the “human hands engineering its sentience” to be aware of their biases, as these influence its creations, and calls for an equitable distribution of “the means to be known and seen.”

“Any Black person using AI today can confidently attest that it doesn’t actually know them, that its conceptualization of their reality is a fragmentary, perhaps even violent, picture.”

Linda Dounia Rebeiz

The title of the exhibition itself is a reflection of Dounia Rebeiz’s experiences with AI, and speaks to the dichotomy of visibility faced by Black individuals. “Any Black person using AI today can confidently attest that it doesn’t actually know them, that its conceptualization of their reality is a fragmentary, perhaps even violent, picture,” said Dounia Rebeiz.

Despite these challenges, the artists featured in the exhibition are “defiantly visible.” They leverage AI, a tool acknowledging its understanding shortcomings, to narrate their stories.

Through its innovative use of NFTs and AI, In/Visible offers a bold, nuanced exploration of visibility in the digital age. It reinforces the necessity for inclusivity in technological development and encourages a deeper understanding of the varied realities that define our human experience.

While NFTs have continued to retain mainstream popularity for their monetary potential, In/Visible highlights their power to disrupt traditional narratives and bring attention to voices often relegated to the periphery. As such, the exhibition is more than an art display; it’s a call to action for reimagining how we see and represent the world around us in the digital landscape.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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