Musing on ML generated "art" 

I've been off and on thinking about the ML generated imagery that is creating a bit of discussion in certain circles (especially those circles where people use the artistic talents they've developed to put food on the table), and for a while I've had this imagery of John Henry playing in my mind as I do so. (No it's not a good analogy, it's just something my brain was doing.)

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Musing on ML generated "art" 

But I think I'm coming to the conclusion that on top of other issues around ML generated art, it's also just another example of ML pollution. Machines we've built to churn out streams of seemingly coherent, but ultimately useless and dissatisfying content that overwhelm our senses and our sense making and just add to the stresses of life.

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@cstanhope

As far as I'm concerned, I prefer to say "ML generated images" rather than "art", because, well, precisely.

Also: I understand the benefit of ML for *extracting* info from sources, not for creating new material. I trust ML to answer questions like "Based on all scores written in the 17th century, what's the probability that *this* pourportedly 17th-century score is genuine?"; but if I want a "new 17th century-like score", I'll ask a human.

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@cstanhope I was reviewing a 1987 "Computer Chronicles" episode last night on the subject of computers and art. George Morrow, as he often did, made a prescient point: Computers and art are a great match so long as it's the artists directing the computers rather than the software developers.

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@chronrevisited I think that's a key observation.

re: Musing on ML generated "art" 

@cstanhope I've been playing around in one of the image synth Discord servers and it's interesting to see how people are actually using it there. So far, I categorize it as:

- Porn / fetish fulfillment
- Telling jokes (funny combinations, making weird-looking outputs, seeing what kinds of unexpected things the model will do)
- Exploring weird edge-case prompts to probe the black-box *cough*
- Some art, too

re: Musing on ML generated "art" 

@varx I honestly don't mind people playing with the things (especially in the privacy of their own homes or forums) even though I have no interest in doing that. The larger context of my toot was mostly thinking about bots and content farms, and yeah, the pressure artists feel from these things. But we'll see how it all shakes out. Maybe we'll get a handle on the pollution aspect. Only our future search results will tell. 😆

re: Musing on ML generated "art" 

@cstanhope Yeah, here's what's bothering me so far:

- Ripping off the styles of artists, often without attribution. Textual inversion and other techniques even make this possible for art of less prolific, less well-known artists.
- The corrosion of trust in images (and blog posts, etc.)

The latter one is going to have a larger but more diffuse impact, but the former is easier to grasp.

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@cstanhope So one question is, how does carefully crafted prompts and curated ML results for into this view? If an individual spends hours tweaking his prompt and views hundreds of results to pick just one, does that change this formula enough to create value?

I've seen the results of this and still think, "this is cool, but it'd work better as inspiration for a traditional artist to create something better." Even that state fair piece.

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@CarlCravens Yeah, I suppose I'm ranting more about the potential for indiscriminate dumping of ML generated things. So from that standpoint, the careful sifting, selecting, and curating of images is less of a "problem" from a pollution standpoint.

Curation certainly has some sort of value, but I am hard pressed to quantify it or even qualify it under the usual circumstances.

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@CarlCravens When applied to ML imagery, I have similar feeling to what you describe. I also find myself, in the face of curated examples, just kind of not interested, if that makes sense? Like, okay, you dug out some nuggets that were trained into that machine through others' labor. Cool?

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@CarlCravens I have heard certain "visionary" types who may or may not be artists of their own have been doing the sifting and curation thing to take the generated images to artists to say, "Like this. I want it to look like this!" Which is cutting out the role of the concept artists. Apparently one of the benefits is speed of generating images. :/

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@cstanhope My interest is very _different_. "You got the engine to produce that. It's very interesting."

But it's different from art with _intent_. A piece made with emotion and intent to invoke emotion.

As a roleplayer, I like the potential of "give me an elf with blond hair, carrying a wand and dressed in a blue magic cape" for personal use. Much the same as I search google for an image that kinda fits my idea. But for creating art for others, not so much.

Musing on ML generated "art" 

@CarlCravens Yeah, it's true, I'm very interested in art for the communication from person to person. I do have an interest in the machine, but not its output in this particular case. 😆

But I don't have any problem with your example. Producing something for your own use or enjoyment. I suppose it's a variation of "paper doll" approach for creating digital avatars in games where you mix and match attributes (created by artists) until you find something acceptable.

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