New Art: Selfies From Alternate Universes # 23

SFAU # 23, by Eric Wayne. Digital painting, 16X40″ @300 dpi, 6/2018. [click to see in a new tab sized for your monitor.]

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.

If you didn’t notice, or it isn’t really clear at first, it’s the same person on the left and right, plus or minus 60 or so years. There are some flukes when working with the app and its AI. Sometimes it gets misled, misfires, makes the wrong connection, and that’s when you might get a child or a person of color. The little girl emerged when I fed painting #20 through the app. It’s that same mysterious thing that happened with #21, which is that the neural network didn’t produce these new identities when working from the original photo, but only from my painted version. Look at the three pieces together and you can see they are all from the same source.

The older lady materialized when I fed the girl through the AI. It is unusual to get very old or very young versions of a person, so this is a bit of a double fluke.

I have plenty of other images I’m working from, but this one somehow gave me lots of material.

The girl really looks like a little girl version of me, not so much the older lady. We may take the artificial intelligence for granted here, but it really does produce amazing results, and it was how uncanny they sometimes were that inspired me to start this series. Even I find it difficult to look at this and remember that neither of these people actually exist, or ever existed.

That said, I’m adding much more to it, and the app only makes postage stamp sized images. People who know their 20th century art history might be eating up all the influences and references (Richter, Bacon, Abstract Expressionism, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Derrick, Veruschka, Chuck Close…) which make this obviously a “fine art” image. And just between us, I don’t think anyone has made quite am image like this.

The older woman is a bit creepy and looks like she’s gritting her teeth.

Some wankstain accused that “the machine does all the work”, but the painting process if rather extensive at times, and I’m getting better at some of the more subtle details. In fact, the machine doesn’t do any of that. It’s all manual, and I invented all the techniques I use. There is no tutorial on how to make that thick paint over the top, for example.

I like to experiment and test the boundaries of any medium. When I worked with paint I would sand it off, scrape it, peel it off and apply it in different areas, spray it on, fling it, etc. Here, you can see that in the close ups of the eyes of one of my old paintings from a quarter century ago.

details-of-Fun-House-FeverAaaaand. Here’s the whole painting:

Fun House Fever

Remember folks, because I use the computer I must not know how to paint. You see, the machine does it and “digital painting isn’t painting” (from another jackanapes). I’ll just come out and say it: I have a painting background, I know what painting is, and if you don’t think this double portrait is a “painting”, uuuuh, you miss the whole point of painting, and art [I’m holding back out of politeness]. Of course I’ve always been more of an “ends justify my means” person than someone who thinks the process validates the produce. [Note that the painting above is part of a collection that last I checked was going to be thrown in the garbage. The joy of being an artist includes having all your physical work disposed of because people think it’s shit. You have to have a strong stomach for insult and humiliation. Fun! Fun! Fun!]

One of the first things I’ll want to test is where I can break the rules. I have lots of other things I’m eager to try with this series.

As for the content, I don’t think I have to worry about dangerous misinterpretations like #21, so, I’ll leave it in the non-verbal realm. What is the relationship between the two people?

SFAU #21

What do you think I’ll produce next? I’m guessing you’ll never guess, because I don’t know myself. It’s the unknown that fascinates me. I would never had predicted this image.

Here’s all 23 pieces so far (in chronological order). Just click anywhere in the gallery to go into the screen-show mode.


~ Ends

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).




7 thoughts on “New Art: Selfies From Alternate Universes # 23

  1. I was thinking about your computer generated people and went back for another look. Can you make the skin more saggy on the old peoples’ faces? Like give them some double chins. You know, the fat droops later in life and the cheeks aren’t as rounded. Then the wrinkle from the outside of the nose that goes to the corners of the lips gets more defined too as you age. I saw your new old lady has more wrinkles around her eyes but the rest of her face looks young. Just a suggestion.


    1. There are errors in all of them, both anatomical, and, in terms of my use of Photoshop and other programs. That said, look at any artist’s paintings and if you look carefully there’s quite often something they missed. Gauguin and Van Gogh were notorious, for example.

      I’m not an academic realist portraitist, though I’ve had a lot of life drawing classes. At this point I think about either trying to perfect those skills, or just keep working and improve as I go, and the latter is much more fun, interesting, and productive. And, of course, this is NOT what the series is about.

      There are a few flaws in some earlier pieces I didn’t catch, and then once I noticed them, they started to bug me, and so I may go back and fix them. But I also like that there’s progress over time, and I can see my earlier mistakes.

      That said, I’m 52, not fat, don’t have a double chin, and DO have wrinkles around my eyes, so the AI is working with what I give it. If I had a double chin, it would surely accentuate it. Also, the woman’s face is being stretched by painty phenomenon, which you may have noticed in a former piece completely obliterated someone’s face. Under her chin there’s a wide swatch of paint, so, it’s not really clear whether she has droopy flesh there or not as the there’s a streak of paint crossing there.

      You can also look at numbers 2,3,5, etc. for older persons with more of the characteristics you mention. When I look at art I very often find minor flaws, but the real challenge for me is not to pick an error on which grounds to dismiss the work, but rather to fathom the strengths and assimilate the content. But, I do understand there’s a very strong, I’d say overpowering inclination among many artists to find any and every excuse to dismiss the work of others wholesale.

      But, yeah, my portraits are NOT 100% accurate! If you can’t find a mistake on your own, just ask me. I’ll be critically aware of several.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ok. I understand you’re not interested in academic realism. The portraits are coming out realistic compared to a lot of modern art which doesn’t even draw eyes on faces sometimes. That’s all relative. Then what do you see as mistakes? Is there anything out there that is 100% accurate? Some people might think a photo is. Where do want to go with this series? Any long term plans or mainly testing the limits of the AI? I read where you talked about the process not being instant, how you go through the changes it makes for a lot of steps. Does the AI do what you plan to do or are the results limited to the machine in some way?


        1. No, absolutely not. The results are NOT limited to “the machine” in any way whatsoever!

          Quite the contrary. You can potentially do anything with a computer if you work hard enough at it. The only limitation is imagination, skill, and perseverance.

          You are far more limited by using traditional mediums. For example, you can’t combine painting, photography, collage and so on in nearly as complex for flexible ways.

          In reality it requires much more skill to work the way I do than it does to work with traditional mediums, which I can say because I got an Masters of Fine Art BEFORE I ever used the computer.

          It’s much easier to get out a pencil and draw what’s in front of you than to, for example, figure out how to make that digital paint that’s on top of the image in this piece, and also interacting with it. I invented that technique myself. There’s no tutorial, no class in the world that can teach you how to do it. Only I have the recipe.

          Thus, I am MUCH less limited in terms of technique, the imagination, and potential results than are people using oils and canvas to paint what they see around them.

          There are very novel uses of traditional mediums, and I’m all for it. There’s also enormous resistance and resentment of the computer, which I fully understand because it was my initial reaction.

          Ask yourself if you are trying to understand my art, or to find an excuse to dismiss it. If it’s the latter, that should be a red flag.

          You can find the elderly jowels you are looking for in a lot of the other older images, but you just try to find one thing to criticize, and this is tied in with your preconceptions about “the machine”.

          I’m glad you bring this up, because I really run into a lot of just this kind of resistance. “The machine”. Just that choice of words is so dismissive. This kind of artistic competitiveness and pettiness is rather shocking to me. I don’t know whether to ignore it, or try to reason with people like you, or (and you should know I can read between the lines) to attack back.

          In any case, I have art work to do. Look at my early work. You are dealing with a real artist. Don’t try to say that the machine does my work. That is a fucking insult, stupid, and myopic.

          Look at your latest charcoal drawing, and then look at this one I made 25 years ago. charcoal drawing

          Here’s a drawing I did just sitting down doodling with a ball point pen. No erasing drawing.

          Sorry, but I’m so sick of this nasty line of attack directed at me. I’ve moved on from strictly traditional mediums. It’s a strength, not a weakness.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Are you somehow connected with James Celano, who I had to block for his abusive attacks, and who also used the precise same argument, including “the machine”, or is this just coincidence?


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