Imagine if you said to an artist: can you please draw me an an art noveau style sprite in the woods with fireflies at night? The artist would have to ask you a million questions. Hair colour, eyes, general colours and so on. Not the AI. It just throws up a guesstimate, and what you get can be an utter suprise. I loved the second rendering that Midjourney did for me in the Discord server. For some reason they've decided to place the fireflies in a jar, which wasn't really what I meant, but I love it anyway. I have many questions about this wood sprite it drew, but I love it.
And so began a little post Christmas dinner wormhole into AI art. I have a lot to say about this so it won't be the last post i write on it, but I did want to share a few things as I eat the last of the homemade stollen and drink wine.
One simply enters the Midjourney Discord server (google it) and puts in /imagine and then any words you like. It seems to do a little bit better if you give it the style of art you want - artists might do better, as they might be a little more specific in this regard. You a few free ones before you subscribe.
Please bear with me hear, because by the time I get to the end of this hour of experimenting, Jamie and I have ended up with something pretty bizarre. You ready?
Okay, next I threw in something like 'fireflies jar deer hare night' and they put said things in the jar. Interesting. Careful what you wish for. And I think it thought I wanted a cross betweeen a hare and a deer. There must be some strange animals popping up in the AI art world. The stuff of nightmares.
The AI seems to like odd mash ups. When I put in 'forest mushrooms path herbalist black and white etching' it thought some giant mushrooms and a house within a mushroom might be the go. And anything that might resemble a herbalist is someone walking down the path with a mushroom umbrella as a hat.
Then I realised my imagination was limited to mushrooms and gardens and felt a little lame and paralysed. As I watched the server, people were throwing up some really cool things like a mash up of a cucumber and a strawberry or beautiful futuristic artistic buildings. When I entered the words:
permaculture garden paradise eden mountainside abundance greenery photograph
It was almost what I imagined, but not quite. I realised I was struggling to really explain myself. Did I need to add 'farm' and 'vegetables' and a few other specifics? This wasn't permaculture - it was a jungle of tropical plants. Nothing like what I really imagined. What did I imagine? I don't really know - I don't have a visual eye.
This one was weird - I had put in 'waves surf dolphins stand up paddle boarder woman' - the second image is so odd as her legs are cut off. She is the board. And the dolphin is more a whale in the first one. I found myself annoyed at her very typical frame - thin and svelte. This wasn't me. And the 'dolphin waves' were - um - waves that were dolphins. Nicely played, AI.
Do I like Midjourney? Seemed like a fun wasted hour. I might go back in when I do one of my fiction stories and try to see if I can summon an image to suit. Should I credit it Midjourney? Is it truly mine if my words summon it? It does make me feel uncomfortable.
And whilst it can do a Landrover 110 linocut, kinda, with wierd windows, I bet you it can't do a Landrover 130 panelvan as none of them exist in the world. We made the only one, using our own imagination.
When I ask it for a sepia toned victorian photograph of a woman with feathers in her hat and a fox, it did okay - but that's not a freaking fox. And what is that bird doing in her hat in the first image? Oh okay, I asked for feathers.
What about if she holds a sloth? These aren't sloths! I'm glad I'm not actually paying for these! I'd want my money back! I mean, did they even go to the zoo as a child? Someone take this AI to the zoo!
Now I know Christmas delirium has truly set in. Wait - one more. What if I ask for this:
victorian woman sepia photograph holding a penguin with bats in her hat riding a horse?
The AI throws a flipping wobbly, is what happens.
I think I better stop now. It's getting hysterical. Jamie's putting on a womanly voice and squealing: 'Andrew!! Why do I have to pose with the raven bat horse EVERY year! I have already lost three fingers!'
Okay one more. Jamie's getting involved now, although he's asking the question - what if you are spontaneously creating these people in alternate universes?
woman in a forest with a bow and arrow shooting a kangaroo in the style of wes anderson.
Um, see anything wrong here?
And of course, despite the poorly machine created animals, you have the whole issue of how these AI have learnt by being fed artist's work from all over the internet without permission. There's a whole ethical quagmire - and legal of course - to get through before we all feel comfortable about this.
But perhaps the firefires and wierd moose rabbit hybrids are already out of the jar, so to speak.
Perhaps human art is already dead.