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Iwapo Series (Cities Reimagined)

(Part of the Influence Collection)

Wall installation at BAI 2023 Art Spring Open House Exhibition:
Short Film based on Wall Installation:
Virtual Guided Tour of Wall Installation:

2023, Multimedia installation on wall, 2.5 x 6 m

Showcased: Berlin Art Institute 2023 Artspring open house exhibition (2-4th June 2023)

(Iwapo: What if in Swahili)

In this wall installation, I delve into the intersection of AI-generated imagery, colonialism, and the intricate web of influences shaping our world. I enlisting the assistance of the AI program Mid-Journey, to generate visuals depicting hypothetical scenarios: cities untouched by colonization and cities influenced by alternative colonizers. My hometown of Nairobi served as the primary inspiration, representing both the absence of colonial influence and the potential impact of diverse colonizers like Tokyo, Beijing, London, Frankfurt, and Paris.

With my distinctive artistic style, I crafted a 3D layered effect by incorporating each printed city image into an interconnected network akin to a sprawling family tree. The organic and creeping nature of her recent vein/root motif further symbolizes the invasive nature of colonialism, both historical and ongoing, and the burgeoning encroachment of AI in our daily lives, whether we are prepared for its presence or not.

A central theme woven throughout this piece is the concept of influence. I explored the multifaceted nature of influence, encompassing the impact nations have on one another, encompassing architectural design, city planning, and cultural diffusion. This concept initially sprouted from my experiences living in Nairobi, where I witnessed the enduring effects of colonialism and Westernization on the city’s fabric. My curiosity lead me to ponder alternative histories, envisioning how Nairobi might have appeared if it had never experienced colonization or if Kenya’s contemporary relationship with China had taken the form of a new colonization paradigm. Additionally, I speculate about the influence of African culture on my current city of Frankfurt and contemplate the reciprocal effects of such cultural exchanges.

Another vital dimension of this artwork is the exploration of the reciprocal influence between humans and AI. The AI-generated images, influenced by human biases, become a conduit for my inquiry into the nature of bias itself. I noticed certain biases in the AI-generated images, particularly when requesting depictions of cities colonized by Africa or imagining Nairobi without the traces of colonization. These biased portrayals sometimes exhibited a rougher or inferior aesthetic quality, leading me to question the origins of these biases. Ultimately, I point to human influence as the source, prompting a deeper examination of how humans shape AI through our own biases. In turn, I also prompt viewers to reflect on their own potential biases and consider the sources from which these biases arise.


In order to foster the continued growth of this project and to encourage participation in the exploration of alternative narratives and the interplay of influences, I invite you to anonymously participate in the development of this work by suggesting additional city pairings and potential colonisers HERE

The Influence collection is a compilation of artworks that explore the significance and impact of various forms of influence. It examines the importance, causes, effects, and reactions to influence in society. They look at the factors that contribute to the emergence of influence and the consequences that result from it. Highlighting the diverse reactions that different forms of influence elicit and invites viewers to reflect on the implications of influence in personal and societal contexts.

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