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Is Seeing Believing?


“We need to think hard about the visual and written language we use to describe and represent technology. (This project) reimagine(s) how AI and machine learning can be represented differently. It’s a fascinating alternative that could inspire all of us to rethink how we express our work in imagery.
— Jim de Zoete, Executive Creative Director at Across the Pond in Drum Magazine, 2019


In 2017, Culture A and creative technologist Lisa Talia Moretti initiated Is Seeing Believing?, a collaborative research project that explores how people feel about Artificial Intelligence (AI) as provoked by visuals in the mass media. How can we create better images for advertising, product, and stock use?

Let’s give AI a makeover. Let’s re-brand it for the future.

How can we create better images for advertising, product, and stock use? Our project is an opportunity to provide dynamic, impactful, and more authentic images around AI and its related technology. We have the unique ability to re-brand AI in the vast visual landscape of digital media.


Culture A and Lisa Talia Moretti devised the project as a multi-phase research initiative to explore how people feel about AI as perceived in visual media. We investigated how AI imagery has educated the public about this increasingly pervasive technology. We partnered with Talkwalker, a social media analytics company based in Luxembourg, to perform a high-level social listening and keyword search analysis of AI as a brand rather than a product. We also used Google Image search and stock art sites such as GETTY and Adobe to study thousands of images and in the context of an associated product, headline, or news article. Our findings show that AI visuals superficially educate the public about this increasingly pervasive technology. AI becomes understood as a robot or a blue brain instead of as invisible code that is embedded in systems we encounter everyday. It perpetuates unnecessary stereotypes (think Terminator) and unrealistic expectations or fears surrounding the technology. 


Based on initial findings and data, Culture A designed and distributed an artist brief to a select group of cross-disciplinary artists and designers with an aim to create new AI visuals. We asked artists to respond with preliminary concepts to be developed into final artworks at a later stage. Our project has captured the attention of various commercial and academic networks. It has been featured in The Drum, Across the Pond, and SciArt Magazine. We have presented the work to Spui25 at the University of Amsterdam, to The Hmm at cultural hotspot NDSM Wharf, and to the prestigious Gerrit Rietveld Academie. We continue to collect data, present our insights, and circulate the artist brief to curate a collection of new stock images.

Select Concepts for New AI visuals

First row: Future Postcards, art by Pauline Batista // Second row: AI as Third Eye, AI all around us, and AI brain power, art by Jake Messing