I do live in somewhat of a vacuum, or bubble as some call it. I work at home, do my encaustic art at home, and most of my social interactions nowadays consist of texting friends and hanging out on Instagram. I knew when I first heard the term “low sensation seeker” in a high school class – that was me. I probably have actually watched paint dry once or twice in my life. I attribute my way of being to the whirlwind that’s usually in my head – I get quite a lot of social stimulation through observation. I suppose the reason I bring up my limited social interactions is to let you know how seeing one post by an artist on Instagram has led to a vast opening up of art that never would have imagined. Literally.
I was looking on Instagram one day in January and came across a beautiful image uploaded by an artist I follow. Her name is Annemarie Ridderhof and you can see her art on Instagram: @annemarie33. It had a futuristic, surreal quality that was very intriguing. Her post mentioned that she created it using AI (artificial intelligence), particularly a program called Midjourney. Well, I have just enough spontaneity and curiosity in me that led to my downloading and playing with that program within a few hours. Within days I had created a reference photo using AI, and over the last few weeks have finished an encaustic work based off that interaction.
The first few images I prompted Midjourney to create were some memories from my childhood I wanted to solidify in 2D. I put brief descriptions of the scenes I wanted portrayed and in less than a minute, four mockups show on the screen. At that point, I had the option of creating different versions of the four, or creating higher resolution versions of them which are suitable to download.
After spending a day or two on those types of images, I ran out of my freebies. By then I was hooked, so I bought a limited subscription.
My next experiment was having Midjourney take elements of images I had created to see what AI would come up with. Here are side by side comparisons of my art vs. Midjourney.
Next I uploaded some 19th century images that I scanned several years ago.
As I became more comfortable with the program, I decided to upload a few of my own images to see if I could make something more of my own from them. I wanted AI to make new or stylized versions of them. This didn’t quite pass my gut test though, since uploading the photos pretty much gives the copyright away to Midjourney. I made a few images by combining some, which turned out very interesting, I think. See below.
Then things began to get a little weird. I was using the terms like “realistic photo” and some creepy images were born. If you peruse many of the images AI creates, they have a darker mood than I prefer. I know my images aren’t all that “happy” but I noticed AI seems to default to the macabre on its own.
To incorporate AI into my art, I decided to use Midjourney to create a reference photo which I would then use to create an original encaustic work. You’ll have to read my next blog post to see what transpired.
I have read more about AI art recently and found there is quite a lot of controversy surrounding the whole idea of AI in art. If people are using it and not sharing the fact an artwork is mostly made by AI, that is simply fraudulent. I might have a stronger opinion if I made a living as a professional artist, but I really don’t see it as a threat but a dynamic new tool to help with visualization. I look forward to seeing how it moves contemporary art in a new direction.
To be continued.