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.) — the popular app Faceapp — 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 follow my blog and you aren’t aware of this series, it’s because I completed #31 just under a year ago. I abandoned this series, more or less. But recently, I thought I’d done so many of them, I could complete the series with a handful more.
This one is a female version of the last one, and I had to doctor and change it so much to make it work that I might as well have just made it up from scratch. However, that’s not how the series works. It’s a collaboration with AI. My interpretive license, on the other hand, is by far the dominant element. In this case, rather than using a photo of me, I used a completed digital painting. The AI botched it, and closed one eye (which it often does with pics of me), but I still wanted to work with it.
It’s my job to then fix the results. You need to know that Faceapp can’t change a person’s race. At one point, before I ever discovered the app, it could, but the good social justice people deemed it racist and SHUT IT DOWN! Quite naturally, I would have found it utterly fascinating to play with, but alas, that possibility was squelched. Nevertheless, there are a few glitches and if I tweak out the app, with a little luck, I can confuse it enough to get some racial blurring.
More than a year ago I took some flack from a few of my lovely critics, who insisted “the machine” was doing all the work. Below you can see the span between what the app created, and what I did with it.
While the app can add glasses, it doesn’t always work so well. I designed the glasses myself.
And there was a lot of work on the eyes.
I also completely invented the hairstyle.
About the Series
Usually a series is comprised of images all in the same style, but here I’ve deliberately switched up the style — though they all need to be realistic — and the thread holding it all together is they are all self-portraits of non-existent people, based on me. I could easily do a dozen more, but I think 4 more, bringing me to 36, is enough to finish it. I can always add more later if there’s interest.
Millions of people have played with the app, but nobody that I know of has done an extended series of art pieces based on it. I thought I’d snap up the opportunity when I discovered the program years ago. I found the people it created fascinating, like extended family one never met, and I initially wanted to make images to commemorate them so they wouldn’t disappear back into non-existent entities. Even the ones that are younger versions of myself are in places and situations I never was at the time (there are two with dogs, and I never had a dog).
On a more philosophical or psychological level they are about how our lives are molded by chance events, taking this or that route, and a chromosomal coin toss. I argue that a person is essentially the mind/consciousness rather than the body, and so here it’s as if my mind/consciousness were transported to another life. Imagine a TV series where the main character wakes up in a different body, and different life, every episode.
You might thimk this would be a hit with “identity politics”, but it’s a very different message, and one I think is a bit more enlightened than woke. In political correctness people will define themselves by their presumed inherent biology at birth, and start their arguments with an attestation of what they are (ex., “As an X, Y, and Z…). I would say, “As an immaterial, shapeless and colorless mind (which is nevertheless caught in a set of biological, geographical, chronological, economic, and cultural circumstances)…”.
Here’s the full image again:
Here’s the whole series so far in a slide-show.
Or you can see them in a thumbnail gallery. Just click anywhere inside to go into the screen-show mode.
And here’s a page with individual posts about individual additions, with details, process, and so on: Selfies From Alternate Universes.
Stay tuned if you are interested in this series. I’m planning on hammering out the next 4 in the next month to complete the series.
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).