A project by Argentine artist Santiago Barros uses artificial intelligence (AI) to imagine what the children of those who disappeared during Argentina’s military dictatorship (1976-1983) would look like today. Barros posts the photos from his project on Instagram under the handle @IAbuelas.
After Argentina’s military coup in 1976, approximately 30,000 people, including 500 children and babies, were killed or disappeared. The Mothers and Grandmothers of the victims, known as the Abuelas of Plaza de Mayo, have been actively advocating for answers regarding their loved ones. They have located 132 grandchildren so far.
Barros combines photos of the disappeared mothers and fathers from the public archive of the Abuelas website using the MidJourney app. This creates the likely faces of their children as adults today. The app provides both female and male possibilities for each combination.
The purpose of this artistic project is to imagine what these grandchildren might look like as adults, with wrinkles and gray hair. However, the Abuelas organization emphasizes that DNA testing remains the only infallible method of identification.
While the organization appreciates the initiative, they note that it is not scientific but rather artistic-playful. They continue to rely on their established methods, such as investigating possible illegal adoptions and collecting DNA samples.
By using AI, Barros aims to support the mission of the Abuelas and encourage younger generations to examine the atrocities of the past. However, he emphasizes that AI images do not replace DNA samples or the methods employed by the Abuelas organization.
This project serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for truth and justice in Argentina, as individuals continue to search for their real identities and confront the horrors of the country’s history.