On the occasion of the Fête des Vignerons 2019, the EPFL+ECAL Lab questions our relationship to time, credibility and materiality. Its installation Bygone Times in Real Time uses Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and social media content to awaken two centuries of world heritage.

On the occasion of the Fête des Vignerons that took place in Vevey in 2019, the EPFL+ECAL Lab has joined forces with the Swiss Camera Museum, the Archives of the RTS Swiss broadcasting corporation, the dedicated serie by and the Confrérie des Vignerons to offer an unparalleled exploration of the world of images.

As soon as you enter, the installation challenges certainties. The images found on social networks take on a material dimension.

Placed on a lit plate, these cards trigger a collection of old images to be displayed on an immersive screen. Visitors can explore it and thus, go back to the origins of the Fête in 1797.

The combination of these documents from different sources is based on Artificial Intelligence — so-called deep learning techniques.

But rather than restricting the results to users’ expectations, as Internet recommendation algorithms usually do, the device aims to foster discovery to build bridges between past times and real time.

To counter the obscurantism of algorithms, it reveals what the machine recognises in the images and therefore how it associates them.

While the installation demonstrates how to enhance the cultural wealth tucked away in huge man-made databases, the research results are also part of a broader project exploring our perception and trust in A.I.

The installation Bygone Times in Real Time has been showcased to public during Fête des Vignerons in Summer 2019, and at Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich from September 20, 2019, to March 8, 2020, in the framework of the exhibition “Knowledge in Images – Information Design Today”.


MAS in Design Research for Digital Innovation
Hélène Portier 

Art Direction & Project Management
Lara Défayes

Interaction Design
Hélène Portier in cooperation with Lara Défayes

Software Engineering
Delphine Ribes, Yves Kalberer

Data Scientist
Delphine Ribes

Hardware & Firmware Engineering
Dr Cédric Duchêne

Matthieu Girel

UI/UX Psychologist
Dr Andreas Sonderegger 

Nicolas Henchoz

Photography Credits
Daniela & Tonatiuh / EPFL+ECAL Lab


Swiss Camera Museum
Radio Télévision Suisse
Confrérie des Vignerons