Imagined futures & an alternate timeline where a collective of popes guide us into a more ecologically sound civilization

I cannot help imagining different futures and alternate realities, including the ones I would like to see.

When it comes to desired changes in society, imagination goes before transformation, so these imaginations can be hugely helpful and important.

I imagine something that will almost certainly not happen as I imagine it, and yet, these imaginations serve a purpose. They highlight what’s lacking in our current institutions. They offer an alternative. And that imagination may guide us. It may be a seed to something different.

For whatever reason, I imagine what a future institution of the pope would look like. What if ecological overshoot brings about a radical transformation of civilization? What if we realize that all our structures and institutions need to radically transform? What if we realize that most religions need to radically transform to take ecological realities into account? What if we want religions to be among what guides us into a more ecologically informed civilization? What then? How may it look? How would I like it to look?

What if an alternate reality of the institution of the pope looks radically different? What if it’s free from any particular religion? What if it is far more inclusive? What if its purpose is to guide civilization in a more ecologically sound direction? What if it’s earth-centered, life-centered, and future-centered? What if all life is considered sacred? What if it’s a collective of people from around the world? What if each is there for only a limited time?

Here is one vision.

I notice a part of me thinking that this is silly. It certainly won’t happen this way. It’s naive. It’s not grounded in reality. And yet, this is how social change happens. It happens through imagining possible futures and alternative timelines. It happens through imaginations most see as naive and unrealistic.

It happens not only through the imagination of writers, poets, artists, or philosophers. It happens through the imagination of people like you and me.

Images by me and Midjourney.

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Own AI images: Turner, Hertervig, Munch (exploring Midjourney v6)

The new version of Midjourney (v6) came out a few days ago, so I thought I would explore it and see how it’s different from v5. My first impression is that some of the painting styles is much better than before, I’ll need to explore more how to create images of sculptures since my old prompts are not very successful, it knows a little more about the world as advertised, and the compositions are better than v5.

The first two images are created with a combination of four image prompts and a brief text prompt. They are oil sketches in the style of William Turner, and much improved compared with v5. The composition is generally better, the brush strokes are more often visible and more realistic, and I also like the colors more. If I had seen these two without context, I would have thought they were originals from Turner.

The next two are created in the same way, with a combination of image and text prompts. I used four or five images of paintings by Lars Hertervig (a Norwegian painter from the 1850s and 1860s) and a text prompt asking for a southern coast landscape from Norway with crooked fir trees and clouds. The images will bring Lars Hertervig to mind to anyone who knows his art, although they don’t exactly hit his style. Also, the brush strokes and painting technique is decidedly more modern than what you see from that era. Still, there is something interesting about those images.

Then there are two in the style of Edvard Munch. Again, there is something interesting about both, although few would mistake them for his actual work. They are too superficial and slick in style and lack personality and soul. It may be because I didn’t use image prompts for these, I am not sure.

As I mentioned above, my old prompts for creating images of sculptures don’t work very well with v6. I discovered that if I specify stone as the material (instead of bronze as I did with v5), it gives a result I enjoy much more.

In general, it’s been fun to explore and I’ll likely continue to explore off and on as it comes to me.

Note: I know the point of AI images is not to create works that could be mistaken for a particular artist, but I am exploring it here to get a sense of the possibilities and limits of MJ6.

AI images: William Turner’s oil sketches from Egypt

A few oil sketches from William Turner’s visit to Egypt and Abu Simbel. Imagined and virtually painted by me and Midjourney.

See Instagram for more of my AI explorations. 

I haven’t shared much from my explorations with AI oil paintings, perhaps because I see more clearly where and how it falls short since my background is in that field. These are fun and I like some aspects of them, but there is a lot of room for improvement in the compositions, color use, texture, and details. I am looking forward to seeing how Midjourney and other AIs improve in the future.

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My personal relationship with AI-generated images

What are some of my personal relationships with AI-generated images (text to image)?

I LOVE IT

I love it. I apparently find it endlessly fascinating to see what comes out of it.

I also love it because it allows me to generate images similar to the ones I wanted to make back when I did art full-time – in my late teens and early twenties. (The sacred portraits – sculptures and paintings – are one example.)

I love it because it allows me to create something that I want to see now.

I love it because it feels like tapping into the collective image production of humanity and seeing what comes out of it. To me, it’s very much a collaborative process between me, Midjourney, the people across cultures and times that created the images it’s trained on, all of humanity since the totality of humanity is necessary for all of this to happen, and really Earth and existence as a whole – in its fullest extent and going back to the beginning of time – since all of it is necessary for any of this to happen.

SADNESS AND HOLLOWNESS

There is also another side to this.

I am hoping it will help me get back into a more old-fashioned and hands-on image-making. I would love to get back into drawing and perhaps painting or even ceramics.

It taps into some sadness of having abandoned something I loved so much and was so passionate about. I used to be unable to not draw daily and would draw for hours at a time and often through the night. It helped me come alive and connect with something deep and full in myself.

There is also a kind of hollowness in it. I love what comes out of it. I tap into my knowledge of art and art history when I make the images. I typically spend a lot of time refining the prompts. I create a lot of images and select the ones I like the most. And so on. So there is work going into it. But it also feels a bit hollow. It’s “just” a digital image and not something you can touch, hold and smell. It’s not something I created with my own hands. And that makes a difference.

THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF AI

And there is more, which has a personal component since I live in this world.

I don’t like the term “artificial intelligence“. The program can mimic intelligence to a certain extent but it’s not intelligent. It’s based on statistics. When it comes to image generation, it predicts what elements typically go together. To me, AI is a misnomer.

It’s trained on a huge amount of images, so what it produces is a kind of average based on that material. The images are, at best, solid and good but not exceptional.

AI will take the job from some people, but not those very skilled at what they do. And AI will also make a lot of new kinds of jobs. I imagine that what we’ll see is similar to CGI in movie-making. It’s one tool among many others. And we’ll see a mix of AI and more traditional approaches, and interesting processes and dynamics between the two.

As with so much, it will likely not be as good as we hope and not as bad as we fear.

Image: An example of what I make with Midjourney that I would like to see. In this case, an imagined bronze sculpture with a certain expression and light.

Portrait sculptures – AI

A selection of bronze portrait sculptures imagined and virtually sculpted and cast by me and Midjourney.

Why do I make these?

I love imagining things I would like to see in the world and AI is one way to do it. Here, I wanted to explore making (depictions of) sculptures with a certain feel I don’t see so often in real life.

I find it interesting to create visual representations of what I would like to do if had the skills to make it physically. I did art (drawing, painting) full-time in my late teens and early twenties and would have explored sculptures if I had continued.

And it’s also fascinating to see how the AI works, what it’s currently good and less good at, and what we can come up with together. Midjourney is currently pretty good as sculptures and still lacks a bit when it comes to creating high-quality artistic photos and paintings.

See below for more images in this series.

For more of my AI imaginations, see my Instagram account.

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Others are likely like me: we are all fundamentally consciousness to ourselves

It’s not wrong that I am this human self in the world with all sorts of characteristics, identities, and so on. And yet, when I look, I find I am more fundamentally something else. I am more fundamentally what this field of experience happens within and as. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am capacity for it all.

A thought may call this consciousness. To myself, I am consciousness and the world to me happens within and as the consciousness I am.

And that’s likely the same for others as well.

If a creature “has” consciousness, then to themselves they ARE consciousness. And the world, as it appears to them, happens within and as the consciousness they are.

The only difference is the particular body-mind this consciousness operates through and as. It may be another human being. It may be a bird. It may be an insect.

To me, this is very beautiful. Even if they may not consciously recognize their nature, I can recognize it. I can imagine it based on what I find here.

Why the halo or nimbus in these images? Why the circle around the head or body?

I can find three reasons.

One is tradition. In European and Asian art, it’s traditionally used to indicate sacredness.

It’s also something we can see. I have seen energies around people and any living and even non-living thing since my mid-teens. (I first saw it around the leaves of a birch tree.)

And it’s also metaphorical. Here, I used it to suggest consciousness and that we all fundamentally are consciousness to ourselves, whether we notice or not.

I made these images with Midjourney, and they are really created by our collective humanity and the existence as a whole just like anything expressed through each of us.

Arctic visions – AI images

A collection of images from the Arctic (northern Norway and Iceland) imagined by me and Midjourney. Click on the images to see a larger size.

It’s fun to explore what the AI can do, and although I like the general feel of some of these images, there is room for improvement when it comes to textures and atmospheric perspective.

For more of my AI imaginations, see my AI Instagram account.

Yokai AI images

A collection of yokai sculptures imagined by me and Midjourney. Click on the images to see the full image. And click “Read More” below to see a few more yokai sculptures.

Yokai are supernatural entities and spirits from Japanese folklore and come in a great variety of forms, from silly to helpful to scary.

For more of my AI imaginations, see my AI Instagram account.

A FEW NOTES ON AI IMAGES

I see these AI images as not so interesting in themselves, but more as: “Wouldn’t it be cool if these were real sculptures?”

Also, I see them as a joint creation of not only me and Midjourney, but all of humanity (the AI is trained on images created by innumerable people around the world) and really all of existence. Without all of existence and the evolution of the Universe, they would not exist. That’s the same with any human creation and made even more obvious with AI-generated images, text, and music.

AI images or AI in general will never replace good artists. They are statistical programs predicting what’s likely to go together (in the case of images) and what comes next (in the case of text). The AI is not in any way intelligent. They are trained on a large number of images and texts so produce something that’s average good, not exceptional. They are tools.

And yes, AI will lead to the loss of some jobs (less skilled image-creators and writers) and it will create a lot of new jobs (people who know how to use AI effectively and well).

As usual, the consequences of this particular tool and revolution will likely not be as bad as some fear, and it not be as good as some hope.

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AI & consciousness

With the recent public AI boom, there has been a renewed discussion on whether AI is conscious or can become conscious.

To me, that’s missing the point a bit.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an opportunity to differentiate between (a) consciousness and (b) the content of consciousness.

CONTENT OF CONSCIOUSNESS

AI is about the content of consciousness, which can – to some extent – be mimicked by machines. AI can produce text, images, music, videos, etc. that look like they could have been made by humans.

CONSCIOUSNESS

Consciousness itself is very different.

Consciousness is what we are. It’s what, to us, any content of experience happens within and as. It’s what forms itself into any and all content of experience 

STATISTICS, NOT INTELLIGENCE

In general, I think the name “artificial intelligence” is slightly misleading. It’s overselling it a bit. It’s more accurate to call it predictive text, or predictive music and image generation.

It’s statistics, not intelligence. It’s the product of intelligence, not intelligence itself.

A FEW MORE WORDS

What do I mean by the content of consciousness? Whatever is produced by AI is similar to what’s produced by consciousness, at least consciousness operating through a human self. It’s images, words, sounds, and so on. It’s all content of consciousness. It’s all an experience that comes and goes.

What do I mean by consciousness? To ourselves, we are consciousness. If we “have” consciousness, it means that to ourselves, we ARE conscousness. To us, the world and any experience happen within and as the consciousness we are. (Night dreams and waking life are the same in that way.) Consciousness itself is distinctly different from any particular content of consciousness. Even as, to us, any content of consciousness is consciousness.

What about the AI name? There is nothing wrong with it, and it is sexy and catchy so I understand why people use it. I just think it’s important to include a more accurate and boring description as well, like “predictive text” and “predictive image generation”. It brings it down to earth a bit. It sobers it up.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

There is a bigger picture here.

AI is the product of the inherent intelligence of existence. It’s a product of 13.8 billion years of evolution of the seamless system we call the universe, locally expressed as this living planet and human biology, technology, and civilization. The intelligence of existence is expressed in all we see and know, including AI.

And if the universe itself IS consciousness, then AI is perhaps more similar to us than most of us imagine. Then AI too is a typical content of consciousness (words, images, etc.) happening within and as consciousness.

Image: A sacred bronze sculpture imagined by me and Midjourney earlier this year.

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AI images: More art deco figures

A few more art deco home items. Virtually designed, woven, carved and painted by me and Midjourney. (These are my first experiments with the most recent version of Midjourney, MJ5.)

See more of my AI experiments on Instagram.

AI images & what people like

Which one of these do you like most?

When I started getting into art in my teens, it was quickly clear that what most people like is often quite different from what the creator themselves like. And I am reminded of that again, with the AI images I have had fun creating over the last few weeks.

For instance, I recently posted one series of painted wood toys and another series of sacred sculptures. (See an example from each above.) I personally easily prefer the sculptures. They are far more interesting to me. And although I wouldn’t call the AI images I help generate “art”, I also know that these sculptures – if hand-crafted in real life – would be considered interesting and perhaps even good art. The wood toys, on the other hand, would be more playthings and curiosities and not terribly interesting.

When I post these, the response from others is the reverse. I typically get very little response to the sculptures, and people love the wood toys. On the main Facebook group for sharing Midjurney images, the wood toys got 300+ likes, and the sculptures one (!).

Why is that?

It may be because the wood toy is more relatable. It’s colorful. It’s something you can imagine having yourself. It’s more ordinary and familiar. And it’s easier to take in quickly since it is more colorful and familiar. On a social media feed, it “pops” more.

The sculpture, on the other hand, doesn’t stand out in the same way. It’s dark. It’s not colorful. It’s less familiar. It requires time and attention to take it in.

We see this in the art world too. Classic artworks are curated by experts, and people will go to museums to see them. They see some of the best classic art exactly because it’s curated by experts.

With contemporary art, it’s often a bit different. It’s not curated in the same way. And most people like art that’s relatable, pop, and easy and quick to take in. That’s not necessarily the most amazing art. For that reason, the best contemporary artists are often less known and less popular.

Note: As I have written before, I enjoy exploring AI images right now. It’s fascinating, and I can get out some of the images in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to create by hand. (I used to do art full-time in my teens and early twenties, but life took a different direction, and because of my disability it’s been difficult to take it up again to the extent I would like.)

I also see AI art as a reminder that all art is collective. The author is really humanity or existence as a whole. The AI is fed thousands or millions of images created by thousands or millions of people, and the prompts just get out some of the immense potential stored in the AI. I cannot take much credit for what comes out. All I am doing is coming up with the instructions, refining them, and curating the results.

Existence as a whole is the real creator. As is the case with anything the universe is creating through its local and temporary expressions we call humanity, culture, and individual humans.

AI images: Art deco wood figures and toys

A selection of art deco wood figures and toys. Virtually designed, carved, glued, and painted by me and Midjourney. I enjoy making things I wouldn’t mind having myself.

In this case, they are perhaps not the most amazing, inventive, or crazy, and that’s fine. That’s life too.

See more of my AI explorations on Instagram.

AI images – Gold Figurines

A few gold figurines imagined by me and Midjourney. Several of these are imagined as part of shamanic rituals. For instance, the sculls represent our connection with the rest of nature. Our bones and bodies are intimately connected with all life, as is all of us.

See more of my AI explorations on Instagram

A FEW AI THOUGHTS

And a few more thoughts on AI-generated images:

Do AI image generators steal people’s art? Not really. It learns from existing images, just like any human artist does. It scans millions of images and learns patterns, and that’s about it. It doesn’t store or steal or use parts of images. (One exception may be if it learns the style of a living artist very well and is able to generate images that are as good as what they make. That’s something laws and the legal system need to catch up with.)

Will AI-generated images replace human artists? It will never replace good artists. It cannot match the best of human-created art, and there will always be a good market for good human art – whether it’s world-class or charming or fascinating in other ways. It may replace some illustrators or less-skilled artists. And in the process, it generates new jobs for people skilled in making AI-generated images.

Who is the artist behind AI images? When I generate images, I am tapping into a vast ocean of (AI) potential to see what comes out of it. I am definitely not the one “creating” the images, although I play a role in coming up with the idea, refining the text prompt, evaluating the outcome, and selecting a few of the many images generated. It’s a partnership between me, the AI, the ones creating and training the AI, and the millions of images it is trained on and the millions of humans creating these images. Just like any art, the real artist is all of us and all of existence.

Will it lead to a new renaissance? I don’t know. The outcome of these kinds of shifts is usually not as terrible as some fear and not as amazing as some hope. That said, yes, it is obviously a kind of revolution. It is already giving a large number of people the possibility to generate images they otherwise would never be able to produce. It will replace some illustrators and stock photographers. It will give work to people skilled in generating AI images. It will inspire many artists to new types of creations. And as anything new that’s dropped into society, it will likely lead to much we cannot easily foresee. (Which is not bad or a problem, that’s just life.)

Is it art? That depends on what you mean by art. I like to say “AI-generated images” for what I dream up with Midjourney, and I mainly consider it fun explorations, similar to exploring dreams.

AI images: Sacred Portrait Sculptures

A few sacred portrait sculptures imagined by me and Midjourney.

Since my teens, I have had the vision to create these kinds of portraits, reflecting or highlighting the sacred in everyone and all life. I initially planned it in oil, but life took a different direction and they turned out digital – at least for now.

See more of my AI explorations on Instagram.

AI images – Modern Art Exhibit

A modern art exhibit envisioned by me and Midjourney, as a (kind of) homage to Yayoi Kusama.

I keep noticing a few things about AI-generated images.

THE COOL THINGS EXISTENCE CAN DO

For me, AI-generated images are not so much about me, and much more about humanity as a whole. It’s very clear that these images are based on the collective artistic production of humanity. And that’s a reminder that all art is that way, even if it’s expressed through a local and temporary individual.

When I show the AI images I create with Midjourney, it’s not so much “see the cool things I can do” but “see the cool things we can do”. It’s about the cool things we as a society, humanity, and existence as a whole can do.

Really, it’s about the cool things existence can do through and as its local and temporary expressions we call humanity, culture, society, individuals, and technology.

BLURRED BORDERS BETWEEN AI AND HUMANS

Some assume there is a clear boundary between AI-generated images and human-created images.

Yes, it’s good to make that distinction.

And no, the boundary is not as strong as some like to present it. The AI is created, designed, trained, and modified by humans. It’s also trained on a specific set of human-created images and is dependent on new human-created art to continue to evolve and get new impulses. A human needs to envision the image, design and refine the prompt (which requires some skill and knowledge of visual arts), and select and edit the image. And many use AI images to inspire hand-made images and art.

The AI is created, trained, and modified by humans. It depends on human art to get trained and find metaphorical inspiration. It influences human-created art. The distinction is not as clear as it may first appear, and there is certainly no fixed or strong boundary anywhere between AI-generated images and hand-made images and art.

THE LIMITATIONS OF AI

Any AI that generates images – and other things – will obviously have limitations.

Midjourney (MJ4) can do some things very well, and other things not so much. It is good with faces but has trouble with hands and the number of fingers. It knows some styles very well and is less familiar with other styles. (This goes for both general styles and the style of specific artists.) It’s familiar with some geographical locations and less familiar with others. It is good with individual objects and has trouble producing images with several unique objects with specified relationships. And so on.

These start-up problems will be fixed, but any AI will always have limitations.

AI-generated images: some misconceptions

A water person dreamt up by me and Midjourney

There are several misconceptions about AI image generation as it looks to me right now. And that may and will likely change, and what I write obviously reflects my own biases.

One of my biases is that I currently love AI-generated images. I have a decades-long background in both art and programming, and I love anything to do with the future, so I naturally love AI-generated images.

AI IMAGE GENERATION FUN

Some judge it as they would fine art. For me, it’s different.

I don’t see or present it as fine art. I see it more as fun, with a few specific applications.

Personally, I am exploring it because I am drawn to it. It’s fun. It helps me get in touch with different sides of myself and I explore my AI-generated images as I would a dream. (The image above is an example – it’s a water person, someone completely at home in the water which for me mirrors a wish in me to be more at home with my emotions which are watery like an ocean.)

Exploring it also helps me get in touch with my fire and passion, and image creation which I haven’t done much of for several years. It helps me get back into it again.

THE APPLICATIONS OF AI-GENERATED IMAGES

As far as I can tell, AI-generated images have a few specific applications, and I am sure this will become more clear over time and we’ll probably discover applications most of us – including me – are not yet aware of.

What are these applications?

An obvious one is illustrations, especially for blogs and smaller organizations and businesses. Many wouldn’t hire an illustrator for hand-made illustrations since it’s too expensive and not worth it for what it’s for. But we may use AI-generated images instead of public-domain images or nothing at all.

Many use AI-generated images for inspiration and ideas for illustrations, graphic design, and even handmade art. It can give us different ideas and angles than we would come up with on our own. It can expand our horizons.

And, as I wrote in another article, AI-generated images can be a blessing for people with disabilities. Many of us don’t have the energy or possibility to engage in handmade art to any real extent, so this is a good way to spark our interest in or passion for image creation. It’s far more easy to create AI images than spend hours and hours and days and weeks and months on handmade art. It’s far better than nothing, which is often the alternative. (For me, because of the limitations of my disability, the two realistic options are AI art versus nothing, and I make several of the images while horizontal.)

NOT AS GOOD AS WE HOPE, NOT AS BAD AS WE FEAR

Most things turn out not being as good as we (or some of us) hope, and not as bad as we (or some of us) fear. I suspect AI-generated images are like that too.

When photography came on the scene, some feared it would be the end of fine art. After all, why would anyone be interested in a portrait or landscape painting if we could just do a photograph? In reality, the existence of photography sparked an artistic revolution. Artists were free to move in a more abstract direction and it led to the modern art we have seen from impressionism to today.

I suspect something similar may happen through the existence of AI-generated images. At the very least, it will co-exist and inspire handmade art. And it will likely lead to a revolution few if any of us can envision right now.

PROTECTIVE ABOUT PROMPTS

Some folks into AI image generation seem protective about their prompts. One guy wanted to copyright his prompts (!) and I see folks in social media groups for AI images say “don’t even think about asking for prompts, nobody will tell you”.

First, it’s not entirely true that people won’t share them. Many seem more than happy to share their prompts, me included.

Second, the individual element in AI-generated images plays a relatively small role. Yes, I come up with prompts and often spend some time refining them to get an interesting result. But I often get my prompt ideas from others or the general culture and what I know about art history (which happens to be quite a bit since I studied it for years). And the AI that generates the image draws metaphorical inspiration from millions of images created by millions of people from many cultures and times. The AI reflects image creation from the whole of human culture.

Our individual role in AI image creation is quite limited and minuscule compared with the role of human culture as a whole. And for me, that’s one of the beautiful things about AI-generated images. It’s a reminder that culture is collective. What individuals create, whether through handmade art or AI images, reflects our culture as a whole and is colored by our (small) individual contributions.

One thing I love about Midjourney is that we can see the prompts others use. It’s a way for all of us to learn from each other and collectively learn and progress.

This is not exactly a misconception about AI art, just an oddity I find interesting. And I feel the prompt protectivity is a bit misguided for the reasons mentions above.

ONLY AVERAGE DRUMMERS ARE ANGRY AT DRUM MACHINES

In summary, I feel there are several misconceptions about AI-generated images in our culture.

The presence of AI-generated images likely won’t be as bad as some fear, nor as good as others hope.

It will take its place along with handmade art, photography, and other forms of digital image generation.

I see it more as illustrations than fine art, and that’s not at all a problem.

For myself, I use it to explore my inner life and images and I often explore them as I would a dream. I imagine many others do the same whether they are consciously aware of it or not.

AI-generated images are a blessing for many of us with disabilities. It allows us to give form to our imagination in ways we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. (And that goes for many without a disability too.)

And, to end, a quote from a social media group for AI-generated images: Only average drummers are angry at drum machines.

Good artists are not threatened by AI image generation since they can do things far beyond what an AI can do and there will always be a demand for their work.

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AI images – water people – week #5

A collection of water people, an undersea dream by me and Midjourney.

What would this represent in a dream? Being completely at home in the watery world of the emotions?

I love to explore AI images as I would a dream. The AI and I dream up images together, and they resonate with something in me. I can explore them as I would a dream. In this case, these water people seem to evoke a wish in me to be completely at home in the watery world of the emotions. How would it be to be as comfortable with my emotions as these people are in the water?

See more of my AI explorations here: https://www.instagram.com/chrysopoeia_ai_art

Update: A few weeks after creating these, I watched Wakanda Forever where an underwater people (the Talokanil) look a lot like these images. Did I see some images from the movie without consciously remembering? Was the AI trained on images from the movie so that when I asked for underwater coral people, the images created came out similar to the movie? Or is it just an example of currents in the culture leading to similar imagery?

AI images – cyanotypes (week #3)

A collection of imagined botanical cyanotypes, as a homage to Anna Atkins. These obviously have no botanical value, but retain some of the aesthetics of her amazing photos from the 1840s through the 1860s. Virtually exposed and developed by me and Midjourney.

See more of my AI images on Instagram.

More AI images – porcelain (week #2)

A few Ming porcelain figures from week two of exploring Midjourney.

See more of my AI images on Instagram.

AI images – alien ceramics (week #2)

Just having some fun here. See more of my AI images on Instagram.

AI images – butterfly & moon ceramics (week #2)

A few of my Chinese ceramics explorations from week two of trying Midjourney.

See more of my AI images on Instagram.

AI images – space-themed (week #2)

A few of my space-themed AI explorations from week two of trying Midjourney. Definitely indulging in what my inner 12-year-old would love to see. At a more adult level, I see that my fascination for space exploration and science fiction mirrors my fascination for my inner exploration, for exploring inner space.

See more of my AI images on Instagram.

AI-generated images – blessing or doom?

I have wanted to explore AI image generation for a while and finally got around to it tonight in front of the fireplace and with the neighboring café playing live jazz.

Here is one of my first experiments with Midjourney. A neo-shaman in Tokyo in the rain with dramatic backlighting. I love that he or she is covered in plants and flowers.

I have seen some discussions about AI-generated images.

CONCERNS ABOUT NEW TECHNOLOGY

Will it replace human artists? Will it make it possible for people to make their own illustrations instead of commissioning photographers and artists? Will it ruin creativity?

Yes, some of that will probably happen.

And it’s also important the remember that these are the type of concerns that predictably come up when new technology comes onto the scene. And each time, the new technology finds its place among everything that has existed before and continues to exist.

When photography came, people said it was the end of painting. What happened was that it caused painting to change. Much of it became more free, imaginative, and abstract, and photography and painting not only co-exist but inspire each other. When CGI became viable, people said it would replace practical effects and even actors. In reality, CGI co-exists with practical effects, and it has even led to new types of jobs for actors in the form of motion capture.

I assume something similar will happen now. Some will use AI for illustrations. Some will continue to hire artists and photographers. AI art will inspire human-created art. Human-created art will continue to inform AI art.

It’s not either-or, it’s both-and. And it may well be that the interplay between AI and human visuals will create a kind of artistic and creative mini-revolution.

It’s also very likely that human-created art will be valued even more. AI art will make it more prestigious.

CULTURE MEANS LEARNING FROM OTHERS

Some say that AI steals people’s work to create new work and make money on it.

I understand that argument and concern.

And I also know that that’s culture. That’s what people have done from the beginning. We learn and take good ideas from each other and do something different with it. That’s how we have a culture in the first place.

The AI is just a bit more comprehensive and effective than any human can be, and also a little less creative.

WHO DO THE IMAGES BELONG TO?

Another question is: who owns the images?

In a practical sense, it’s determined by the AI companies and the law.

And in a larger sense, they come from the collective experience and creativity of humanity and really from the whole of existence. It’s always that way, no matter which particular human or technology it comes through. It’s just a little more obvious with AI images.

CULTURAL BIASES

Some also criticize AI-generated images because they reflect cultural biases. They learn from our culture so they will inevitably reflect biases in our culture.

For instance, if I don’t specify ethnicity for a portrait, I get a European person. If I ask for a god, even a traditional Hindu god, I get someone absurdly muscular. If I ask for Jesus or his parents, I get Europeans and not middle eastern people. If I ask for a general person, I get someone unusually good-looking in a conventional sense

I would say that’s equally much an upside since it brings cultural biases – picked up by and reflected back to us by the AI – more to the foreground. This leads to awareness and discussions – in the media and among those exploring AI art and the ones they share these reflections and observations with.

A lot of people are more aware of these kinds of cultural biases now because of these AI images.

MY OWN BIAS

I have a background in programming and in art, so I naturally love AI-generated visuals. I see it as a way for people without too much experience to still create amazing images. It’s a way to generate ideas. And it has its place and will co-exist with old-fashioned human skills and creativity.

UPDATE AFTER ONE WEEK

I have explored Midjourney and AI image generation for a week now, and find it seems to fit me well. It’s fun to see images created that I have had in my mind for a while but haven’t created in pencil or oil. It’s also fun to get to know the AI and sometimes be surprised by results better and more interesting than I imagined.

I also find I cannot really take ownership of the images, apart from in the most limited sense. They are generated by the AI, the AI is trained on perhaps millions of images created by others, and it’s really all the local products of the whole of existence – going back to the beginning of the universe and stretching out to the widest extent of the universe (if there is any beginning or edge). It’s always that way, and it’s even more obvious with AI-generated images.

The images are very much co-created by me, Midjourney, innumerable artists whose works have informed the AI, and all of existence.

I have also started an Instagram account for my AI image experiments.

Note: Specific prompt for the image above -> Neo-druid shaman in Tokyo 2300 rain dramatic colorful backlighting semi-realistic