SFAU #32, by Eric Wayne. Digital painting, 21″x21″ @300 dpi. 4/27/2020. [CLICK TO SEE IT IN A NEW TAB SIZED FOR YOUR SCREEN.]

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.

On the left is #31, and on the right is the female version Faceapp created.

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.

Here I was trying to make the eyes more convincing, and close to the source of #31. Note I’d already worked on the female version a bit.

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)…”.


Details

Right eye, or her left eye.
Mouth.
Hair line.
I just invented the clouds.

Here’s the full image again:

#32

Here’s the whole series so far in a slide-show.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

~ 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.

Patreon-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).

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13 replies on “New Art: SFAU # 32

  1. Very cool. I like it. Whole series is quite good. Well done.

    I definitely see what you mean about the eyes. I’ve always given the eyes more attention in my portraits than other areas because one millimeter off and you’ll have a different person. But in this case, the person doesn’t exist, so how to make it convincing? And you & I both know, convincing… is no easy task. Nice job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Yeah, eyes are tough, especially getting them to line up convincingly. I’ve gotten better at it, so can better see flaws in earlier ones, and in other people’s work.

      I’m not a portrait artist, and just went at this serious with the general applicable skills I have. But during the process I did a lot of studying up on anatomy, did some tutorials, and so on. I’m a lot better than I was when I started.

      When I step back, this is, IMBO (B for biased), a rather good concept and execution for portraiture in the 21st century. But, uh, it’s not likely to get much traction outside of my own lunchbox.

      The last 4 (for now) should be strong. I’m planning 2 in one style, and 2 in another, half will be male, and half female.

      Hope you’ll stick around to see them.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

      1. You still have done a great job with this whole series. Feel accomplished. We all have issues getting outside our lunchboxes (haha, I got to remember this line, I’ve not heard this in years). Let’s talk shop a bit.

        Just out of curiosity because I don’t know much about your medium, how long do these portraits typically take you to complete?

        On my end, oil painting (in general), can take me weeks or months to complete. Drawings go for 60 to 80 hours. There’s a lot of lost time if you’re aren’t quick about things and I generally lose money because of time.

        In other words, if I spend too much time on a painting or drawing, that extra time earns me nothing more. Lost time hits the wallet but it keeps your high standard. High standards are the reason for the audience to hang around and without an audience we only paint for ourselves (nothing wrong with that either) If this makes sense?

        Then there’s a storage issue if there’s no sale. So I’ve amounted a nice giant sized unsold collection of paintings. But, these become what the public can view… and artshows lead to private comissions.etc, etc. I try to run at least six shows a year (all of which are canceled this year …so that sucks).

        Do you have storage issues (I’m assuming you print these?) and how often are you showing your work in your local art shows?

        The key to getting out of your lunchbox is to keep visible to the public. I get surprised how even with six shows a year people will say, Matt…where have you been? As though I’ve disappeared from the planet.

        I’m wondering if you’re lunchbox problem is anything like mine; matter(artwork), time (worktime), and space (storage). The very things that make us what we are…keep me in my lunchbox.😁

        Your work is good. Expose it often and at nauseam and you’ll grow quickly. Even when you’ve shown stuff over and over, keep showing it a little bit further out from where you live every year. There’s so many great artists living today that it’s become (and I really hate saying this) a popularity contest and shows are a real pain in @$$.

        The public is saturated in great images (hard to keep their attentions) and I find myself forgotten about (I kind of like that actually).

        I’m too happy in my lunchbox and spreading further and further is more work, but I careless about people seeing my art (which equals all those problems I stated earlier, storage problem being the worst one)😁.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Matt:

          The portraits are all over the place in terms of how long they take. I started this one over a year ago, and there are more than 50 files dedicated to it. Usually they are a lot simpler. The fastest one I knocked out in 2 days. It all depends on what technique I’m using, and how difficult it is for me to accomplish. Originally I was just over painting them, with corrections and liberties.

          There are two versions of the first one because it took me a couple weeks to try to find a technique I could use for all of them. I only intended to do about 24, and all the same approach. But quite naturally, I evolved other approaches, and switched to recreating the images rather than painting over them, and then in some instances radically recreating them. I tried not to use the same individuals or technique overmuch. The last 4 I’m going to try to hammer out in a week each.

          Generally, digital art and painting can take very short or very long times. I’ve spent months on some pieces, and then others completed in a day. Part of the thing for me is I’m always pushing my skill set, and getting myself in difficult places, in which case I have to figure things out in terms of content, subject matter, and technique.

          Storage?! Shows?! Are you taking the piss? (British expression for which there’s no American counterpart, but joking in a way that’s critical, potentially a bit mean, but meant to be laughed off at t he pub in a mutual self-effacing way. Something like that.) All my art can fit on one thumb drive. Shows? You’re seeing the extent of it. I’ve had a lot of shows on my own blog! In fact, I’m the featured artist. The whole damned blog is devoted to my art and my thoughts.

          In the last 15 years I’ve moved more than 15 times, and that’s if you exclude moves within the same city. 10 of those moves required I take only what I could carry onto a plane. I rarely make prints, and I’ve only ever seen a professional quality print of one of my works, and that was over 15 years ago. I haven’t even used my printer to print a serious image that I can remember.

          Nevertheless, I make all my art of the quality that it can be printed out, as in it’s 300 dpi and the smallest I’ve ever go is 8” in the shortest dimension. My largest piece is 12 feet wide. I don’t even entertain the possibility of having a physical show in a single location. The idea has not entered my consciousness that I’m aware of.

          Right now, I see my only hope of any success to lie in getting exposure via some other venue, such as an art magazine with a large audience featuring some of my work. But even to get there, I will probably need to do an extended series in a signature style (something I have real difficulty doing). That would need to be accessible enough to appeal to a wide audience, but also, from what I can tell, need to be work from the imagination, that is obviously hand-created (as opposed to collage…), painterly, obviously skilled, and a recognizable individual style. That’s really tough for me because it’s gotta’ be a style where I can pull out all the stops, and that also requires a full range of skill (I find myself having to deal with illusionistic texture far more than I’d ever predicted, and that alone requires some serious study and practice).

          I consider something like Pollock doing drip paintings for a decade a cop out. Too easy. There might have been some work in coming up with the approach, but not having to deal with subject matter, lighting, modeling, anatomy, perspective, or even really color or composition. Way too limited! I don’t know how people are comfortable in a lot of the highly successful styles I see them working in.

          So, you can see that I don’t do any of the things that I really should be doing from a practical, commercial perspective. But I may be doing all the things I should be to make real art that matters to me. Hopefully I can reach enough other people that value it as well so that I can scrape by with enough resources to enable me to keep making art. Beyond that, mild success would allow me the modest things I need to be happy. It’s possible. Lot’s of hard work, determination, perseverance, organization, and focus are required. If I just keep doing what I am doing, without upping my game, we might have this same conversation again in another 5 years, when I’m nearly 60 years old.

          Like

          1. Thanks for sharing. I’m always curious about the grit that goes into the artwork.

            I’ve lived in Bermuda in the 80s (the whole decade), and I married a Scot, so I’m somewhat familiar with some of the British terms. No worries.😁

            It’s good to see that you are “upping” your game constantly. I see too many artists stuck in one mode, one method, robotic type art (which is what I think you were getting at). It’s good to see you’re not into that sort of thing. Forgive me if I ask questions about your art, your style, or your struggles (those are the bits I like) I’m rather new at it myself… only started painting in 2013 (because I took ill) after a lifetime in high risk careers (military, police, etc).

            To be honest, I don’t know the first thing about computer painting, but it sounds as though there’s just as much time spent in it as oil painting on linen and canvas. But I did suspect there’s a lot of time involved which is why I asked. Nothing that good comes from easy work. I think your “made up” portrait work is great. It’s tough to do that.

            As for the shows, that’s what my art world is made from. Sorry if I touched on a nerve there. I can say, it’s the one thing about this experience that I’m (personally) not comfortable with, nor do I like. Always lugging around hanging oil paintings from here to there. It sucks monkey @$$. Talking to people about the art in depth (this part gets robotic). A few paintings get stolen from time to time…and a few get sold. Such is my world.

            Anyways, I always enjoy our conversations. Talk with you on the next one.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Since we haven’t seen this series in a while, it was great to revisit it again fresh. Love the video, slide show, excellent work. This last one really shows an incredible level of detail!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful, imaginative people. You can be whoever you want to be. Which brings up the question, which one do you want to be? Changes from hour to hour? Go for it!
    Selfies from Alternate Universes is a great phrase, a great idea, a great series.

    Liked by 1 person

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