If you are new to this series all the images are based on recent photos of me after basically being fed through a neural network (which can change age, gender, etc.), then edited and painted using various programs. None of the people actually exist, and thus they are like self portraits from alternate universes.
By the way, if that green background isn’t really vibrant, your monitor may be a piece of crap, which I can see mine is on my second laptop. I may do high-end digital art, but my equipment is nothing special and in serious need of upgrade.
Imagine what people will think when I share this on Instagram, and they don’t have any context. Even if they know about the series, and that these are all versions of me, what will they make of the painted-over and smeared-over head? Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, and Willem deKooning fans will have some grasp of it.
A few things to notice or think about is that the girl’s hair is swinging as if she just turned her head abruptly at a surprise. Compositionally, the boy’s head is swept away at the same angle. It reminds me of a time I was, as it were, meditating, and I heard a woman say my name. Nobody was there. I sort of see her reacting in a similar way. And the more gloppy, smeared paint effect (for those that don’t know the direct art-historical references) is a bit like the jelly-ish stuff that covered the mom and daughter when they came back from that other dimension in Poltergeist (interdimensional, fabric-of-reality glop!). None of those things are really intentional or literal, but it might help some people access the imagery.
I’ve said before that this series is a collaboration with AI. It is so, and more than one would even anticipate. For example, the girl is a version of the boy from the last painting, below.
But there’s more and stranger things to it than that. You can’t get that girl from the original photo the former painting is made from. The AI likes my paintings, so to speak, and does more with them than with the original photos. This girl only appeared when I fed the painted version through the App. Logic would tell me that it would just make a more painterly version, not an entirely new entity. But the latter is the case. It’s bizarre, and mysterious.
The other thing you need to know is that the AI doesn’t change race. Nope. At one point there was a version that did, but before I ever heard of it the social justice advocates SHUT IT DOWN! They said, of course, that it was racist and white supremacist (because everything is, and it just had to be).
So, how did I make a non-white, female, younger version of me. It’s a glitch in the Matrix that I can very occasionally manipulate, if I’m lucky, and most the results are fails. It only really works when I start with a painted version. There’s a lot of trial and error, and mostly error.
For those that follow the series, you might have recognized the painted over boy’s smile from the last piece. He, and the painterly swaths have carried over.
I’m dealing a lot with people applying preconceived ideas, honed in verbal language, and using them to dismiss images created in visual language sight unseen. And here is also my (unintended) rejoinder to the nimrod who challenged that if I couldn’t make myself a different race, than digital art was “limited” and necessarily inferior to “painting”. Uh, note the horrible logic that if there’s anything at all that you can’t do with a computer, than it is less flexible than physical painting. This is like saying that if your helicopter can’t go into outer space, it’s less flexible than a bicycle. Derp! And then there are going to be the people that would, if they knew about this piece, conclude that it must be racist (how could it not be?). Meanwhile, if you just look at it you can see it’s not racist and it is a painting, and if anything shows how damned mutable and unlimited are the possibilities of digital art and digital painting in the right hands.
Maybe that’s not apparent to the casual viewer, but even for me this one exceeds what I thought were the possibilities when I started this series. People who don’t themselves work extensively with digital art techniques, and haven’t attempted to make a digital painting (let alone an impasto one), just assume there’s some easy way of doing it. No, there isn’t. To make this you need to be fairly adept at using 3 different programs, and an app, and integrating them. I have pages of notes on my custom processes and recipes. Every stroke is done individually, and a background with physical drawing and painting may be required.
I even had to use my traditional drawing and painting skills in a more obvious sort of way. I didn’t like what the neural network did with her ear (it only half-realized it). So I went to the bathroom mirror with a pad of sticky notes and did a quick ballpoint sketch of my ear to paint hers based off of.
Have a look at the full image again.
As for an interpretation, I wouldn’t even bother. Stop trying to see art through linguistic structures. Well, if it amuses you, go ahead, but just about every day I understand more that it’s better to find ways to unravel conclusions than to wind them up. The intellect is both an avenue to understanding reality AND an impediment to it. About the worse approach there is to visual art is to have conclusions about it stored in your head as sentences.
But, if I had to give some sort of comment about the relationship between the two entities, first I’d have to say that it’s the same person shifting between alternate universes. But, when they are side by side, it does strike me that there’s something flirtatious going on. They definitely don’t dislike each other — quite the opposite — which is one reason I kept his smile in there, which is also hers. That was more obvious before I smeared his face.
If people do decide to attack me for using a seeming POC — remember, they SHUT DOWN the app that can change race! — than I have some snappy comebacks, or detailed arguments if needed. And for the anti-digital art crowd out there, you’d better take cover, because I’ve got a blog post coming that’s going to blow your dismissive rhetoric to bits.
Stay tuned for more in this series. I have surprises in store I haven’t even mentioned yet.
And here’s All 21 images so far (in chronological order). Click an image to enter the screenshow:
Stay tuned for more entities to emerge. There will be surprises.
And if you like the (experimental) sort of art that I do, and you don’t want me to have to quit or put it on a back-burner, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art back on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). Ah, if only I could amass a few hundred dollars per month this way, I could focus entirely on my art and writing. 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).