Does AI Art Have Meaning - Women of the World Project Overview
Women of the World: Conceptual Overview
Let's talk about the concept for the Women of the World project and its inception.
When I first started experimenting with Stable Diffusion, I was using images of Mandy and trying to apply different styles. During the previous three years, Mandy and I had been living throughout south east asia, and this is where I got the idea to make a south east asian version of Mandy.
Art Reflecting Life
We lived in Vietnam for two years during Covid, so I naturally started with a Vietnamese version of Mandy.
It worked! Mandy looks Vietnamese.
This resulted in me trying different versions from other countries we'd traveled to. These countries include the following:
Soon I realized that I could make something very interesting. I could make a version for every country. I just needed a list of countries. I googled for a list and found the list of contemporary ethnic groups on Wikipedia.
Mandy and I often talked about living in every country in the world some day, so I thought this was kind of fitting.
This personal connection to the idea made the project more meaningful to me. My relationship with Mandy, our past experiences, and the potential future experiences we might have, all contributed to the development of the project.
Additionally, this project is an expression of my involvement in artificial intelligence and it's progression. The project integrates my love for Mandy with my experience traveling, with my experience with artificial intelligence.
Each of these elements about my life are embedded in the project. As we will see, I'm even in the project. In many ways, my story, even my existence is embedded in this project.
I've heard before that life imitates art. Maybe it is the other way around, art imitates life. I definitely feel that this project reflects my life and experience.
Individual yet Universal
Another idea that I wanted to convey in the project is that we are all one. We are connected, a collective. We all look slightly different, but we share a common humanity. This was my experience when meeting people while traveling.
This is when I decided that I definitely wanted to keep the eyes unchanged. However, we will see that there are technical reasons that make this desirable as well.
The artistic side of the eyes being a constant are more important though. Looking into someone's eyes is a powerful thing, and I see Mandy's eyes more often than any other pair of eyes in existence. The eyes in this piece are significant to the artist as an individual, and the idea of looking into another's eyes is a universal feeling.
Note that the eyes or the act of seeing can be generalized to sensing in any way. For example, taste, touch, smell, feel, etc.
Easter Eggs in Art
The eyes used in this AI art piece also contain a hidden bit of information. This is sometimes called an Easter egg.
I'm in the reflection. I am the one who took the photo, and Mandy is looking at me, and so if you squint, the artist is in the piece.
After knowing about this Easter egg, it's hard not to notice when viewing the Women of the World piece.
In terms of being a creator or an artist, I like to say, "Make art. Leave artifacts". This project is an artifact that I'm leaving.
With all this being said. I suggest you make this project more meaningful to you by choosing your own photo or meaningful person in your life as the input.
Voyage through Time - a Generative AI journey
Another notable project that we'd like to highlight is the Voyage through Time AI art project that was created by Xander Steenbrugge using Stable Diffusion.
This piece evokes a feeling that in universal among humans, the beauty and amazement at existence itself. Being alive and conscious while contemplating our past, present and future.
Terence McKenna Explores Art, Psychedelics, Culture, Creativity, and Consciousness
Another item I'd like to share is this talk given by Terence McKenna, a philosopher, psychedelic advocate, and overall polymath.
This talk by Terence has been visualized by me using Stable Diffusion. The talk is philosophical, poetic and packed with a lot of depth and meaning. It focuses on and progresses through these concepts:
I highly recommend watching it and using it as a frame though which to view ourselves as artists in a wider context as we continue though this course.
As a primer, I've added a discussion of the talk below which can be used as a guide to better understand what Terence is saying, and how it relates to this course.
We can think of this talk as a tale about art, creativity, culture, psychedelics and consciousness. These aren't separate elements but linked parts of a bigger story. When we say bigger story here, we mean a larger context.
So, we might think of ourselves as artists, but what is the meaning of our work? What is the larger significance of our work and the artifacts we leave? In other words, what is the larger context?
We can think of art as a special kind of communication tool that we possess. Art is a general language that lets us share and understand abstract ideas and feelings. Art is about expression. It's about our ability as artists to convey our thoughts and emotions to the observer.
There are many tools that can be used to carry out this act of expression such as painting, sculpting, dancing, singing, teaching, speaking and writing. These tools taken together give us the language of art.
Now, think about creativity. Creativity is the spark that comes from this artistic language. Like nature, the birthplace of all creativity, it's always looking to grow, change, and explore new paths.
It's the excitement of coming up with a new game or a fresh way of seeing the world. Then, we have culture, which is the rules we follow laid out by our society. While Culture can bring order, it can also act like a wall blocking the flow of creativity.
The talk warns us that Culture's rules shouldn't limit our imagination or trap our creativity. This is where Psychedelics enter the picture. Psychedelics are like a magic key capable of unlocking the doors that culture may close.
They help us see things from different angles and viewpoints, allowing us to break free from conventional rules and open up new realms of imagination. Finally, we arrive at consciousness. It's our ability to think and feel.
Thinking and feeling are the preconditions to expression. We can even think of art as being the collective consciousness trying to express itself. Art is the language of consciousness. Expression is how consciousness communicates, how consciousness records its attempts at probing reality.
Psychedelics have the ability to take down the barriers of culture, and thus, they can catalyze consciousness, allowing it to express more fully what it's like to be consciousness. This is also known as qualia.
Psychedelics can make us more aware of our place in the world, thus, giving us a wider context for our own lives and aiding us in expressing this context through art.
In this way, all of the elements of this talk are intertwined. They all play their part in the bigger story. This is what makes this talk so powerful, its wide and encompassing context.
Practice with Flashcards
Challenge your grasp of the concepts by exploring these interactive flashcards.
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