It seems that someone at Google created a Big-Data approach to digital art, using neural networks to modify images in ways that can be as creepy as they are interesting.
I may not be communicating the concept correctly. According to the developer’s blog, the images originated as a way to visualize neural networks themselves? Maybe it is just too early in the morning for me to fully comprehend. Maybe I need to go back to sleep and set the alarm for … 2025?
But I digress. This is not about whether I understand the Google developers intent, this is about some seriously interesting photo filters. Because that’s what the developers ended up exposing to the world, an open sourced API to various image-modifying filters.
The APIs are not enough, someone had to write additional code that actually used them, and several different websites have risen to the occasion. I picked two, with two different approaches, and took them out for a DDO-centric test spin.
The first site, Deep Dream web interface, allows you to upload an image and then makes all of the filtering choices for you. It’s output is not immediate (it took over a day for the site to provide the images shown in this article), and the filtering choices that the provider makes seem to result in particularly creepy results.
Be advised that the site has a display page showing a selection of recent images that others have uploaded for transformation, and the current version is NSFW: someone wanted to see what several different shots of filtered porn looked like. Because of course they did.
The second site, Dreamscope, is more developed and allows the user to select from 16 different filter sets with whimsical and not-always-very-descriptive names like “Self Transforming Machine Elves”.
This site also opens with a gallery of user-created images, but (at the moment) none of them contain filtered porn.
But enough talk. Let’s see some images.
Here he is after Deep Dream web interface treatment. Look at all the faces watching him. Very spooky:
And here he is after getting the Inceptionist Painting treatment from Dreamscope:
I love this one. Unexpectedly Impressionist! Now Rancyd looks almost Simpsons-like in simplicity, holding a giant toothbrush in front of a mauve mass of brain cells.
Let’s do another! Here is Mawry Haversack, Zombie Commando, transformed into undead by the Cursed Blade of Jack Jibbers:
And here is the uber-creepy version from Deep Dream web interface:
And here is a strangely Cubist (although there are no angles and only one straight line) version from the Dreamscope filter “Botanical Dimensions”
Pretty damned awesome! Not recognizable at all, unless you hold the two images side-by-side, but still awesome. Certainly more evocative than the original. Imagine if you’d encountered it in a museum or magazine rather than here. What is the figure doing? Why is it underlined? Is it supposed to be mankind defending itself from the forces of entropy?
Appealing, yet alien. Warm and humanistic, yet sounding a warning.
Or no, it’s just Mawry, but still, without the context of knowing that these are filtered DDO screenshots, they look seriously creative. Seriously!
And then (inevitably) anything with the slightest hint of value must be book-ended by (inevitably) tripe:
That’s at least one more eye than I am really comfortable having. The beholder, on the other hand, seems thrilled.
🙂 😀 🙂