Artist uses AI to recreate faces of Jesus Christ and other famous figures

The Scientist
3 min readJul 26, 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has found a new expression in the art of Dutch photographer and digital designer Bas Uterwijk, who publishes faces "recreated" by machine learning technology from a software called Artbreeder.

The operation of the application is simple to understand: it compiles all known information about a person - not only their physical facial structure, but also geographical and temporal information (place of birth and period of life, for example) - to create a figure that is more approximate than their technical conclusions can draw.

Result is obvious: ultra-realistic figures with iconic names in history, such as the first president of the United States, George Washington, or even more contemporary and well-known celebrities, such as the rock star David Bowie, who died in January 2016. There is even Mike Ehrmantraut, a character lived by actor Johnathan Banks in the Breaking Bad series.

Artist profile on Instagram:

The Messiah, in AI

Certainly, one figure that draws a lot of attention in Uterwijk's Instagram is the "picture" of Jesus Christ. The maximum human figure of Christianity has also been recreated by the artificial intelligence software, achieving a result considerably different from what is seen in "saints", images and statues found in most churches around. The image was taken from his profile in Instagram, but is still present in the artist's personal website, where he keeps his portfolio:

Most modern historians - including some who do not follow religious precepts - agree that Jesus (or someone who comes to be known as Jesus) did in fact exist, positioning his birth in Bethlehem, a region about 10 km from Jerusalem. The Bible itself offers no clue as to his physical appearance, except to mention that he did not stand out from the crowd in any way.

Considering that Jerusalem is situated in the Middle East, a man who did not physically stand out from his average population would follow more or less the same body pattern as the inhabitants of the region. In short, the software used by Uterwijk concluded that Jesus was a man with black skin tones and more conspicuous facial features, while modern representation (due in large part to the Roman expression of Jesus Christ) places him as a white man with straight hair.

Original text published by Rafael Arbulu in "Canaltech" (translation)



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