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Bring your favourite paintings to life – with exceptionally creepy results

5 March 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

It has been big week for deepfakes, those controversial videos that use artificial intelligence and ‘deep learning’ to create lifelike yet entirely artificial animations. First, there was (deepfake) Tom Cruise on TikTok and just a couple of days later the genealogy platform My Heritage launched a new tool: Deep Nostalgia™.  The feature is intended to be used on old family photographs, allowing you to bring your long-dead ancestors back to life.

Social media users have, as ever, got creative with the tool, animating an eclectic range of images – including some museum objects.

Ever wondered what the Mona Lisa looks like in motion?

Ian McKellen soon got in on the game, with a painting of Richard III from the National Portrait Gallery – perhaps he wanted to compare it to his portrayal of the villainous king in the 1995 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play…

The Natural History Museum tried the tool out on its Darwin statue. Perhaps not the most natural selection.

Some saintly side-eye.

Old Masters at the disco – sound on.


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Your correspondent’s personal favourite? Barnsley Museums have animated a photo of one of the dolls in their collections. As if deepfakes weren’t creepy enough.