Shiny distractions

Ah, AI, it’s the quantum fuzzy snake oil buzzword of the new era. Or at the least, an interesting toy to generate monsters.

Dall-E 2 is the mildly annoying name of the new-to-me ai image generator I played with this week, trained they claim on six million images. It will create whatever you ask for, unless it breaks rules around decency or depicting a real person or you want something other than a1024px square image. The starting point can be a word description, or an existing image that you own the rights to. The systems generates variations, and variations on those variations until you get something interesting, or run out of patience or credits.

Beginner effort : My ask-for in this eg was “creature that is half woman half spider, 3D render, hyper real”. The results … were not what I was expecting.

I liked the second one enough to ask for variations on it

The third one of the second set, yeah, that was the thing I hadn’t known I wanted to create. Any variation can have more variations, or be edited online (somehow) or downloaded and played with in Photoshop (which I did with the second half of the banner above), or whatever. You can also expand images sideways, if you start with an image with things in the background.

I image-searched from the final result with Google : nothing similar exists.

So, huh, a lot more playing will be required. At the moment you have to sign up and wait for a bit to be allowed to join, the owners are sensibly managing demand on their system, or are cynically managing hype (either or both). They give starter credits for free, but more will cost me $$s. Of course I’ll pay up, I’m hooked now. What if I change just one or two words in the starter image, say, ask for it in the style of Aubrey Beardsley or . . .

PS: The legal stuff is still a bit vague on who owns what created with an ai tool. Filters and Photoshop actions raised similar issues back in the day, but twists are a bit twistier here around defining a creator. Each specific ai tool will probably make you agree to stuff like them being allowed to share and reproduce what you make before letting you use it. So, relax and play, but don’t get too attached.

Also, if you share your work, brace for some sneery “but that’s not art” judgements, just as there was with digital photography, film photography, using a camera obscura and every other image innovation back to the first charcoal stick dragged over a cave wall. Read David Hockney’s excellent book about all the “cheating” artists have always resorted to, it is heavy enough to stop any argument.

PPS: If you can’t access this one, here’s a discussion of some other current ai tools

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