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Ava Zevop

In the Beginning, There Was Static ... In the End, There Was the Webbed Wide World 


In the Beginning, There Was Static ... In the End, There Was the Webbed Wide World (2022) by Ava Zevop explores how synthetic media complicate the relationship between the image and the world. The project traverses various media entanglements – from generated imagery and text, through visual datasets and the World Wide Web, to digital photography and analogue television – and researches how echoes of past visual media and technologies are reflected in the aesthetics and semantics of a new visual paradigm shaped by AI processes.
Ava Zevop, In the Beginning, There Was Static ... In the End, There Was the Webbed Wide World, 2022. Photo: Katja Goljat / Ljudmila, Ljubljana.
Dr Fei-Fei Li, the founder of the first large-scale visual dataset ImageNet (2009–), pioneered the future of machine vision by envisioning the training of AI models to use a vast collection of annotated photographs that would “map the entire world of objects”. The key to this endeavour were vast amounts of digital photographs “collected” from the World Wide Web, which were then categorised into sets based on lexical databases (e.g. WordNet). The myriad of images was first annotated by remote crowdworkers via Amazon’s Mturk platform and later tagged by the users of web platforms. The categorisation of the visual inevitably flattens the meaning of individual images and mirrors the hierarchies in language to image-level relationships. This ambiguity can be seen in the unclear relationship between the prompt and the generated image or in the unusual machine interpretation of images.

The series of four works designed as generative-interpretive loops, probes the techno-cultural entanglement that underlies and shapes the currently most widely used AI models for image generation and recognition. The project uses image search as a reverse-engineering tool to explore the World Wide Web and datasets as specific “worlds of images” and “images of the world” in one. Overall, it reflects not only on the agents that shape the meaning of images but also on the “cartographies of new worlds” that are becoming a reality today with the creation and use of fully synthetic datasets for AI model training.

Text by: Maja Burja



Ava Zevop, In the Beginning, There Was Static ... In the End, There Was the Webbed Wide World, 2022. Photo: Katja Goljat / Ljudmila, Ljubljana.
Ava Zevop (1990) is a visual and intermedia artist who explores different media to reflect on the challenged notions of today’s reality, stylistics and semantics of digital culture, and the role of media and technology in “worldmaking” processes. Her work currently researches synthetic media as a cultural paradigm shift. Since 2020, she has also been operating under the name strtgm, aiming to create work beyond authorship and to foster cooperation. Her previous works have been exhibited at Design FEST Gent in the Design Museum Gent (2022), at the exhibition Let It Be Queer! in the City Gallery of Ljubljana (2021), and at the 26th International Festival of Computer Art – MFRU: Infrastructural Complex: Altered Earth (2020). Ava lives and works between Ljubljana and Brussels.



Etc. is an annual magazine, dedicated to showcasing current artistic production from the Baltic to the Balkans.
Based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, each issue is dedicated to a relevant topic in art and life. Founded to promote emerging artists, its goal is to initiate a dialogue, inspire collaborations, and challenge set views.