Immirant or expat?

If I say "John is a migrant" or "John is an expat" how do you picture John in your head? How does he look? Why do you choose to use migrant instead of expat? And yet, the two terms have almost identical meanings for the Cambridge Dictionary.

Immigrant: a person who has come to a different country in order to live there permanently.
Expat: someone who does not live in their own country.

The persons here portrayed are not real, of course. They are the creation of a machine learning system called GAN. The portraits have been generated drawing from two different datasets of portraits. For one dataset they have been used portaits from Flickr that have been tagged as "immigrant", while for the other one were used portrtaits tagged as "expat". Afterwards, the GAN was trained twice, once for each of the two datasets, letting it generate these portraits.

The computer becomes inherently biased in a way (racist?), since it has been fed and trained by a human being. And in such a process, where you can generate images on a very big scale, it’s easier to understand the bias permeating these two terms. And it’s even easier to create that bias.

What is the power of language? Why do we choose a term instead of another? How does media affect our perception of different terms with a same (or to a wider extent very very similar) meaning? And how unconsciously biased are we when we choose a word over another?

This is an experimental project that wants to underline how society, media and our own experience of the world shape our mind.
The project was carried out with the curiosity to discover beautiful faces and portraits, followed by the shock of discovering once again how images can be permeated by an innate racism, that is much more intrinsic in our society than ever. With the hope to give others the opportunity for self-criticism.

If you want to reply a few questions about the project or report any issue, click here.

This project was conceived and created by me and curator Maria Ghetti, and made possible by Runway ML. For any additional information, question or complaint you can email me here.



Useful guide to the properties in the refugee camp of Calais. The residential area of the “New Jungle” is a large residential area of 500,000m2 in the outskirts of Calais, France. Surrounded by a 5 meters-high metallic fence and equipped with running water and lights, the “New Jungle” offers different housing typologies, both old and newly built.

🏆 Selected at Kassel Photobook Awars 2016 🏆

“This zine by the Defrost Studio is a welcome antidote to the many photographic projects that have emerged around the refugee crisis. Using the notorious and now destroyed Jungle camp in Calais, they copy the graphics and tone of a holiday let brochure. It is wicked and brilliant at the same time” - Martin Parr

Review by Colin Pantal
- Buy


Mass migration led to the creation of new residential areas. Although in Europe we still don’t realise it, because the cases are limited - Calais was the most striking example - and because we prefer forms of detention - rather than cohabitation - this doesn’t mean it is not happening in other parts of the world.

Real cities have been shaped by decades of mass migration and the clearest examples of this phenomenon can be seen in Africa (especially Kenya, Chad, and Western Sahara).
Satellite imagery is the mean which helps us to understand this evolution in the most consistent way. These satellite-cities, even if often are not considered as actual cities, develop as real urban conglomerates, in different ways according to their geographic position and the communities inhabiting them.

The goal of “Satellites” is to analyse, through satellite imagery, these new cities, give them a visual dignity and investigate how they evolved, following the principles of town planning.

I decided to focus on Africa and some countries in particular, because it gave me at the same time more heterogeneity and unicity of images and results, and also because some cases offered more representatives images and more precise data.

Each image is the result of the composition of hundreds of HD screenshots stitched together.

A more in depth description can be found here.

Immorefugee - The Agency

Tique Art Space, Anwterpen, Belgium
29/03/2018 - 18/04/2018


Beyond the Fortress 

Beyond The Fortress is a short documentary series about people living in Lampedusa and how they deal with the refugee crisis. A collection of stories about people and migration.