“Awakening of AI” by Eric Wayne, 11-2016. [24X36″ at 300 dpi]. Click to see sized for your monitor in a separate tab.

You may have seen a much smaller version of this piece from me before. This version can print out 6 feet wide. Below is a detail at “actual pixels”.


Here’s the eye:


And here’s the brain:


If you follow my work, you’ll recognize this as the same robot I created for my “Infinite Objectivity”, in which three robots are in a process of awakening, and being destroyed.

Infinite Objectivity
Infinite Objectivity

The theme is the same in both, but the newer one is an experiment in making larger digital brush strokes, a practice I thought I abandoned for more direct ways of rendering, but, I ended up returning to this image to finish it. “Infinite Objectify” has the same sort of “impasto” brush strokes, but you can’t see them until you get up close. Below are a few details from that piece.




Because people couldn’t see the brush strokes in the final image, because it’s just so big (about 12 feet wide, and it’s actually a triptych), I had the idea of making a much smaller image, in which the brush strokes are bigger, and then blowing it up and painting over it. I can’t just make very large brush strokes because it would really over-tax my computer. The first piece I did the more visible brush strokes on was the “Portrait of an Impasto Imposter”.

Portrait of an Impasto Imposter
Portrait of an Impasto Imposter

In the piece above I made large brush strokes on a small image, blew it up, and then painstakingly airbrushed over the original brushstrokes, which had been pixelated to all hell in the enlargement.

What about the content?

It’s a robot coming to life. It’s not that the robot has achieved intelligence, but rather that the intelligence has been awakened. It is “conscious” and not just intelligent (as in having a high capacity to process information). I’m skeptical that it’s possible to create artificial consciousness, though I’m very confident we could simulate it seamlessly, or nearly so. A simulation, however, is not alive, and when we are talking about being conscious, that’s what we are talking about.

My robot design, because it’s supposed to be constructed in order to achieve consciousness, has a large brain, split in two hemispheres. But this is also as if it’s mind were opening.

This theme of awakening is one I return to frequently, and you can see it in “Arrival”.


Back to the idea of whether or not we can create artificial consciousness. Generally, it appears that the people who argue that we can, also tend to reductionism. They reduce the human mind/consciousness to something like “firing neurons”, and then suppose we can replicate this process mathematically, and voila, consciousness will emerge. Or else, some like to say that artificial intelligence will just get so incredibly smart that it will figure out for itself how to awaken itself.

I see consciousness as a biological function rather than one of sheer intelligence. First came awareness, then awareness of awareness (or “self awareness”). We didn’t just get so smart that we reasoned out that we exist, or more heroically reasoned ourselves into existence, which is what we are asking computers to do. Consciousness evolved slowly over billions of years, along with increasingly sophisticated brains, as a survival mechanism and advantage. It is entirely bound up with physically existing as vulnerable, sensory biology. Well, unless it’s a spiritual thing, which, nonetheless only appears in biological creatures with highly evolved brains.

If I were part of a scientific team trying to achieve artificial consciousness, my strategy wouldn’t be to layer enough algorithms or achieve phenomenal computing power, through whatever means, but rather to start with a machine that is outfitted with sensory apparatus. I’m not sure at all that something non-biological could be alive, so, I’d start with some sort of cyborg, and try to connect the super-intelligence with the vulnerable, biological element, and the come up with factors in which it would need consciousness to survive. Now this is getting into the dark kind of sci-fi that I quite enjoy, but which can also horrify me.  I really don’t like any experimentation on animals, for example.

Imagine the responsibility of creating artificial life on par with our own. We would be gods, and it would come with enormous responsibility. Not that we care as a species, which is obvious presently in our barbaric ongoing wars of opportunity.

We are a sad, sad, species in some regards, and my art about awakening consciousness tries just a bit to do just that, if you catch my meaning.

~ Ends

And if you like my art and art criticism, and would like to see me keep working, please consider making a very small donation. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per significant new work I produce, and cap it at a maximum of $1 a month. Ah, if only I could amass a few hundred dollars per month this way, I could focus entirely on my art. See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.


Or you can make a small, one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).


5 replies on “New Art: Awakening of AI

  1. Wow, you are really getting good. IMHO this is your best work in terms of digital art. You have really mastered the digital brush stroke. Impressive I like it alot. Your color scheme is haunting – the blues and whites give it a sense of freshness yet the character appears evil to me. This juxtaposition sets up a feeling of tension in me as I look at it. Nice work, Very effective. I vote for more from you along this vein

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, man. I really appreciate it. As you might have observed, I get very few comments, so it’s great to know when one of my images reaches someone.

      However, I seem incapable of working consistently in one style. This one was a throwback.

      I’m working on a few things that are not in this style, but I may include the digital impasto in sections. We’ll have to wait and see. I don’t even know what I will do, because if I do know, than there’s no surprise and discovery for me, or not as much. And even when I think I know what I’m going to do, things crop up which will take it in a different direction. Nowadays I think I just need to work more, and not worry much about on what. Anything I do I will sort of obsess over and and take it as far as I can, within reason.


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