Revisit Scenes of Daily Life in Amsterdam in 1922, with Historic Footage Enhanced by Artificial Intelligence

Welkom in Ams­ter­dam… 1922.

Neur­al net­work artist Denis Shiryaev describes him­self as “an artis­tic machine-learn­ing per­son with a soul.”

For the last six months, he’s been apply­ing him­self to re-ren­der­ing doc­u­men­tary footage of city life—Belle Epoque ParisTokyo at the start of the the Taishō era, and New York City in 1911—the year of the Tri­an­gle Shirt­waist Fire.

It’s pos­si­ble you’ve seen the footage before, but nev­er so alive in feel. Shiryaev’s ren­der­ings trick mod­ern eyes with arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, boost­ing the orig­i­nal frames-per-sec­ond rate and res­o­lu­tion, sta­bi­liz­ing and adding color—not nec­es­sar­i­ly his­tor­i­cal­ly accu­rate.

The herky-jerky bustling qual­i­ty of the black-and-white orig­i­nals is trans­formed into some­thing fuller and more flu­id, mak­ing the human sub­jects seem… well, more human.

This Trip Through the Streets of Ams­ter­dam is tru­ly a blast from the past… the antithe­sis of the social dis­tanc­ing we must cur­rent­ly prac­tice.

Mer­ry cit­i­zens jos­tle shoul­der to shoul­der, unmasked, snack­ing, danc­ing, arms slung around each oth­er… unabashed­ly curi­ous about the hand-cranked cam­era turned on them as they go about their busi­ness.

A group of women vis­it­ing out­side a shop laugh and scatter—clearly they weren’t expect­ing to be filmed in their aprons.

Young boys look­ing to steal the show push their way to the front, cut­ting capers and throw­ing mock punch­es.

Sor­ry, lads, the award for Most Mem­o­rable Per­for­mance by a Juve­nile goes to the small fel­low at the 4:10 mark. He’s not ham­ming it up at all, mere­ly tak­ing a quick puff of his cig­a­rette while run­ning along­side a crowd of men on bikes, deter­mined to keep pace with the cam­era per­son.

Numer­ous YouTube view­ers have observed with some won­der that all the peo­ple who appear, with the dis­tant excep­tion of a baby or two at the end, would be in the grave by now.

They do seem so alive.

Mod­ern eyes should also take note of the absences: no cars, no plas­tic, no cell phones…

And, of course, every­one is white. The Nether­lands’ pop­u­la­tion would not diver­si­fy racial­ly for anoth­er cou­ple of decades, begin­ning with immi­grants from Indone­sia after WWII and Suri­nam in the 50s.

With regard to that, please be fore­warned that not all of the YouTube com­ments have to do with cheeky lit­tle boys and babies who would be push­ing 100…

The footage is tak­en from the archival col­lec­tion of the EYE film­mu­se­um in Ams­ter­dam, with ambi­ent sound by Guy Jones.

See more of Denis Shiryaev’s  upscaled vin­tage footage in the links below.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Vin­tage Footage of Tokyo, Cir­ca 1910, Get Brought to Life with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence

Watch Scenes from Belle Époque Paris Vivid­ly Restored with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (Cir­ca 1890)

A Trip Through New York City in 1911: Vin­tage Video of NYC Gets Col­orized & Revived with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence

Icon­ic Film from 1896 Restored with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence: Watch an AI-Upscaled Ver­sion of the Lumière Broth­ers’ The Arrival of a Train at La Cio­tat Sta­tion

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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