Jun 27, 2023

Nigerian AI artist creates a fashion show for elderly people

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The project’s inspiration came after Malik’s mum suffered a stroke. [Source: slickcityafrica.com]

A Nigerian visual artist has launched a project to help curb cultural biases in Artificial Intelligence (AI) results by curating a fashion show featuring black elderly people – groups that are often left on the fringes of fashion culture.

Visual artist, fashion designer and filmmaker, Malik Afegbua, 38, received global attention last month when he posted his AI-generated images on social media showing older people flaunting the fashion runway in colourful garments.

As part of ‘The Elders Series’, the images challenge stereotypes around how older people, especially those of African heritage, are perceived.

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Malik Afegbua. [Source: Facebook]

The project’s inspiration came after Malik’s mum suffered a stroke. Being close to her, Malik wanted to create a happier image.

“I just needed an outlet to find a way to express myself and not think about her on a life-support machine. I wanted to think about her in a happy place,” he told CNN.

Malik said that until his mother’s stroke, he had only worked experimentally with images of black people on AI platforms, but he found that these images weren’t accurate or of quality. 

Racial and gender bias in AI has been a hot topic recently, as facial recognition technology was proven to be less accurate for black skin and AI art platforms can produce pictures that reflect the cultural biases of images found on the internet.

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Malik Afegbua created "The Elders Series" using the AI platform Midjourney, and Photoshop. [Source: slickcityafrica.com]

While Malik knows the enduring power of AI in the arts world, he also knows it is no match for humans. 

He said that since he shared the series, Malik has been invited to present his work all over the world and has received recognition for drawing positive attention to older people.

“I’ve had many associations that have to do with the elderly contact me asking how we can collaborate,” he said.

As an amateur photographer and visual artist, Malik was given a Canon camera as a gift which opened the door to filmmaking. He has gone on to create films, corporate videos, series two and three of Netflix show “Made By Design”, as well as a biopic docudrama on Nigerian designer Nike Davies-Okundaye.

Malik can be found @slickcityceo on Instagram and Twitter.

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