Herbert W. Franke & Casey Reas
An intergenerational conversation between two significant figures in computer art.
Known for working with AI models to produce vibrant abstractions, Linda Dounia has become an important voice in the world of digital art. She spoke about her career trajectory, her principles, and the topics and tools she uses in a virtual studio visit with Outland. Dounia’s art is rooted in a spirit of free experimentation. As a design professional, her favorite part of the job was coming up with concepts—a process that allowed her to step away from the screen and play with forms and materials. She regretted how that play came to an end when she had to deliver a product to a client. Becoming a full-time artist in 2020 enabled her to stay in exploration mode.
Dounia uses GANs, generative AI tools like Midjourney and DALL-E, and other machine learning models to produce work. She also encourages her friends and family to play with them and learn about them before they become mainstream. Based in Dakar, Senegal, Dounia knows that new technologies often reach her home country and other places in Africa after their applications have been established, and it’s important for users to become involved early in order to have a say in how they develop. She wants her art to be broadly accessible, rather than walling off her esoteric expertise, and she understands that education and collaboration are important to achieve that goal. Dounia organizes exhibitions with other AI artists in the African diaspora, and works in her own community on public art projects. Her generosity is aimed at making the internet more egalitarian on a global scale.