SFAU #10, by Eric Wayne. Digital painting, 24×25″ @300pdi., 3/18/018.

This is #10 in the series so far. I’ve started sharing these on Instagram, which I didn’t do earlier because people mostly just look at the pics without reading, and if you don’t know the back story, you will just assume they are photo-realistic paintings of people that exist, or if you don’t look that closely, just snaps. Finally I decided to share then in twos, which might help, though they are likely just reduced to being diptychs of snaps of existing people.

I rather think even if you don’t know what these are images of, the last two work rather nicely as a diptych, as do all the pairs so far, even if I don’t put them together until after I’ve finished the second one.

#9 and #10.

It’s good if the (digital) paintings work on their own, in which case the back story adds much more to it. I’m improving at making these, so the technique is starting to shine a bit on its own. If you follow my blog you know I’m not a signature style kind of artist, but more like Hockney or Picasso like to experiment and explore (unlike them I have precisely ZERO recognition in the art world).

Here, at very least, between these two you might see a comparison/contrast of youth and aging. If you know a little more they are the same person. Uuugh, the long and painful life implied in these two images! If you know still more they are based on recent photos of me, and use a neural network to change age, gender, and so on, after which I tweak out the image in Photoshop and then paint it in Painter.

Here is the original photo I used, and what the app did when I applied the “female 1” filter. Note, I was making a crazy old person face to lure the app into creating a scary old pic of me. I’m learning better how to manipulate it through trial, error, and fortuitous accident.

I tried to get the app to make me extra old and it sprang out a child.

Above, you can see what the app did, and I don’t know how it did it. You can’t do this deliberately. When I first saw this I found it frightening. The girl seemed to have discovered herself in some weird alternate universe. And those bottom teeth? Yuck! What the app gave me was unusable, but fascinating, er, to me. I’d have to reinvent the teeth, for starters.

Now compare the first stage with the final image, after my Photoshop edits and painting.

Before and after Photoshopping and digital painting.

Well, I suppose I didn’t like the girl being frightened or horrified, so in the final version it seems more like she’s just being a kid and acting crazy or something. Perhaps I’ll re-introduce existential horror at another point. I really didn’t wanna’ inflict that on a little girl, even if she doesn’t remotely exist.

I get a lot of crap, and ignored, for choosing to work primarily digitally, but, I think here you might see some of the advantages of being able to combine skills ranging from photography to collage to painting. In this painting the Photoshop stage was the hardest. Below you can see it in progress and all the layers and masks and adjustment layers I’ve got going on in the palette at the right (and most are labeled and well-organized).

My girlfriend just walked by my desk so I said, “Hey, look at how my new one. came out.” I can be super secretive about work while in progress and not let her see it. Her reaction was to stress that the girl looks like me. [Note here that I’ll probably never have real children 😦 .] I don’t know if that comes across yet to an audience that doesn’t have to look at me every day. [Oh, crap, I just caught a mistake. I think I’ll leave it in for others to catch and try to do better next time. Or, more likely, I’ll go back and fix the earlier ones as my skills improve and I know how to do it later.]

I’m not sure if this series will catch on to other people or not, or if they will start to recognize me in the images though I am never in them. This is the conceptual idea in it — a series of self portraits in which I’m never in it directly, but cumulatively I am in it through the uncanny resemblance that ties them all together. There’s some deeper shit. I’m really stepping in it here. But I’ll spread it on a bit thinner by dispersing it among posts.

I’m sure tons of people are playing around with Faceapp and coming up with similar images, but, so are people uploading millions of photos every day and it doesn’t stop photographers from doing their work, and this is much more technically complicated. Just between my several readers and me, this is a new kind of self-portraiture that wasn’t possible before, and I’m snapping up being the first person to do it well (I think). Also, the reason I am doing this now, or part of it, is my version of life insurance, as in if something happens to me, my visage, spanning many generations and individuals will not be extinguished. You can’t eradicate me! I shall not be expunged from existence! (kidding, sorta’) Hopefully I’ll be around for a long, long time to come and we can see if I end up looking like some of the old codgers in this series.

Here are some details:

I think my paintings skills come through here.

And here’s all 10 images so far. I did two females in a row, so the next two will be male, I think. I haven’t done a young male yet, so come back soon if you’d like to see one. I like keeping it about 50/50 in terms of gender, so if someone doesn’t know me they won’t necessarily know if the artist is a man or woman, old or young.

~ Ends

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3 replies on “New Art: Selfies From Alternate Universes #10

  1. Hello, cutie! She reminds me so much of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. I would have been really curious to see how this panned out across different races too… But I’m guessing that’s a clear no zone, the equivalent of a blackface?


    1. Is THAT what she reminds me of. I was thinking it might be a Poltergeist or Fire Starter poster or advert. Looked them up. Nope. But it seemed like I’d seen the image before, and the same goes for the older lady. Could be Home Alone, but he has both hands on his face. But that could be it. It’s definitely reminiscent of something.

      Y’know, they had an app that could change your race. I never got to play with it, and I would have loved to. Guess what happened to it. Yup, the kill joy “social justice advocates” SHUT IT DOWN!

      Why, because they concluded it simply had to be racist and white supremacist, in which case they only had to find the reasons, any reasons. Perhaps someone’s transmogrification looks stereotypical. Wait, is a filter that is supposed to make your more attractive LIGHTENING your skin color?!

      I’m not really sure how the neural network works. Part is mathematical, and part, I think, is using a library of images of people and culling from the more similar ones.

      Now, if you were, for example, doing Asian women, and you collected hundreds or thousands of women from advertising, than, well, yes indeed, in Asia they are going to lighten skin color. In that case the app would just be reflecting how different races present themselves in the media and so on.

      I don’t doubt there was potential for racial abuse using the app, but there is also the opposite, which I suppose is harder for a radical reductionist with foregone conclusions to fathom.

      So, for example, I live in Asia and lived in China for nearly 5 years. At one point I realized I’d woken up 1 out of 10 days of my life in China.

      Well, I would be curious what I would look like as a Chinese person. And it might have helped me identity with my students and the locals, because it might have helped me empathize by being a bit better able to imagine walking in their shoes.

      But noOOOooo! The freedom fighters had to SHUT IT DOWN!

      Well, it does help me to narrow my choices a bit and focus on white versions of me. Surely the feminists would come after me, if I were a target worthy of toppling, but, alas, they’d piss off all the “non-binary” people.

      But, yes, surely if I made myself black there would be an automatic attack. It simply would have to be racist, “blackface”, and white supremacist, no matter what it looked like, because, according to “identity politics” it’s impossible for me to fathom what it’s like to be a black person, and anything I do is necessarily highly suspect, and most likely racist, misogynist, homophobic, trans-phobic, Islamaphobic, xenophobic, mansplaining, colonizing, patriarchal, and male tears.

      I say fuck ’em. Nobody would respect me for cowering in a corner and meekly accepting the yoke of someone else’s crimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s something about working under constraints too, it forces you to be more creative and find new angles. But man, I would have loved to see this explored. I don’t think I would consider it racist if (1) it wasn’t making a race look better than others and (2) it was presented as a universal theme. Still, it’s a very sensitive subject for many.

        Liked by 1 person

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