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Project Gaza

Spatiocide, Ethnic Cleansing
and AI-Driven Introspection

Whispers & Giants Prompt Explorations
Unretouched AI images

October 2023

Fictional Photography
Using the MidJourney’s Generative Adversarial Networks.

This project is an augmented exploration of the visceral and complex realities unfolding in Gaza since October 7th. It ended in early December. I however, wanted to write the text before the end of the year. This exploration is a personal and creative attempt to grapple with the unfolding human story—a narrative punctuated by tragedy and a sense of loss that transcends geographical boundaries.

As I absorbed the crude news on my phone, moving through my Swiss rural landscapes during the routine of my commutes, a profound sense of shock, anger and sadness took hold. I needed to mourn a part of our collective humanity that seemed to have slipped away in the chaos of conflict. We were passing a threshold.

Caught in the year-end frenzy of productivity amidst the most mundane tasks of emails, PowerPoint presentations, and meetings—the EPM cycle—the challenge became integrating the distant reality of Gaza into my daily consciousness. How does one reconcile the immediacy and violence of such events with the often trivial nature of our daily professional undertakings?

I’ve turned to AI as a means of introspection and visual sense-making—a tool to navigate the overwhelming stream of information and emotion. My daily journeys have become a ritual of engaging with my AI, running prompts and re-rolls during my commute, juxtaposed against the backdrop of reading journalist reports and analyses. This habit has evolved into a personal visual diary crafted through artificial intelligence.

The present images are the result of this ongoing prompted dialogue with the AI. They are born from a series of prompts that seek to initiate a conversation. This back-and-forth has produced a collection of visuals, each embodying a theme, an emotion, an aspect of my sense-making introspection.

These visuals are a system of metaphors that articulate the oppressive weight of apartheid, occupation, and ethnic cleansing—a visual investigation of ‘spacio-cide.’ This term, as conceptualized by Sari Hanafi, speaks to the strategic fragmentation of Palestinian lands and lives. This suffocating reality is felt both physically and psychically.

The series explore the notion of space not only as a physical entity but as a fundamental aspect of human dignity and autonomy—spaces that have been systematically constricted and divided, echoing the policies of colonialism and resistance that shape the Palestinian experience.

Each piece in this series is an intention to witness, acknowledge and respect the suffering that is so often obscured or diluted by physical distance and media filters. They explore the duality of isolation and hope, the intricate web of cause and effect in socio-political struggles, and the delicate balance of societal cohesion constantly tested by the tremors of conflict.

In the shadows of an embalmed city, the space for life is now indistinguishably entangled with the space of the dead.

Lives held in suspension, capturing the fragile balance they maintain during the mechanical process of destruction of their habitat. These diaries entries or conversations with the AI reflect on the stillness that envelops moments of unrest and the quiet that surrounds the chaos.

Eventually, I wished to explore a more hopeful and inspiring round of prompts to envision something like a process of reconciliation, or the process of sharing mutual stories of grief and loss, opening a way towards justice, reconciliation and peace. I was in South Africa when TV was showing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or process that followed the end of the Apartheid regime. I envision a time, a tomorrow where we would witness a new era of leaders having new conversations.

As of 25 December, 22’000 Palestinians and Israelis have been killed in the Israel–Hamas war, including 69 journalists (62 Palestinian, 4 Israeli and 3 Lebanese) and over 135 UNRWA aid workers.

Spatiocide refers to a process where space, in terms of land and territory, is systematically targeted and manipulated to achieve political, social, or ethnic objectives. This concept often involves the destruction or alteration of the physical landscape, infrastructure, and built environment in a way that disrupts or destroys a community’s existing social fabric and living conditions. The goal of spatiocide is typically to displace or marginalize a specific population group, thereby reshaping the demographic and cultural characteristics of the area. It is a form of spatial oppression that extends beyond physical destruction, encompassing the erasure or transformation of cultural and historical identities tied to the land.

Ethnic Cleansing is a term used to describe the deliberate and systematic removal of an ethnic or religious group from a particular area by a more powerful ethnic group, often involving violence and coercion. This process can include murder, forced displacement, deportation, and other acts of persecution based on ethnicity. The intent behind ethnic cleansing is to create an ethnically homogenous region by removing the presence of the targeted group. It is often characterized by widespread violations of human rights and international law and can be a precursor to or accompany acts of genocide. Ethnic cleansing is not officially recognized as an independent crime under international law, but its actions are covered under the Genocide Convention and the statutes of international criminal tribunals.

Project Gaza

A Midjourney Explorations by Whispers & Giants

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All images are Ai-generated.
The people portrayed here do not exist.
This is a fictional experiment with artificial intelligence.

W&G 2023