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.
Grumpy old curmudgeon semi-self-portrait. I was going for a wizened, weathered old man look, though I hope to never look this similar to Uncle Fester. I tend to favor the more ancient entrees in this series, partly because a series based on (extremely altered) selfies risks being vain, and the unflattering, too-close-for-comfort portraits delineating my possible aging trajectory help keep vanity to a minimum. Overall, I wanted a traditional, oil-painted-portrait feel, which is a bit different from the other pieces in this project.
A thought about a series of unsalable images
I’m sometimes shocked by how superficially some people think about art. I’ve seen people seriously argue that the way to determine the worth of art is by its monetary value. People argue that art is a commodity, and treat it like an investment or a way to move around money. And then there’s the ever popular criterion of if we could live with something hanging above the sofa.
As is usually the case, you just need apply the same standards to music in order to see how dim they are. Is the highest selling single the best song? Are MP3s an investment? Do we judge a song by whether or not we would want to hear it in an elevator, or always playing through a speaker in the corner of a room?
This series fails miserably by those sorts of litmus tests. But is it interesting? Does it communicated ideas? Does it cause one to contemplate their own identity and how circumstances could change it? Does it deal with the human condition and the nature of reality, time and mortality? Are some of the images memorable, and do they become part of your internal visual library? Does looking matter, and can subtle feelings, sensations, atmosphere, and information be conveyed through visual means?
I see art more like a poem. You don’t need it framed on a wall to process or enjoy it. The physical manifestation could be worthless, and you don’t need to own it in the first place. Popularity can be the consequence of marketing and an appeal to the lowest common denominator. What makes art good has everything to do with the effect it has on you, and nothing much to do with that other stuff. And if one sets out to make art for the living room, or to be popular, it may never rise above that.
That said, I am working on strategies to make more popular and salable art. There are such things as win-win sscenarios. And if I’m wrong and you do want a print of any of the pieces in this series, I’ll include it in my available prints. Come to think of it, I probably would put up a print of a non-existent person. Then when people asked me who it was, I’d have something to talk about.
This image is based on one of my prior pieces fed back though the AI, and then heavily altered in the painting process.
The center image, above, is the image on the left with a “male” and “age” filter applied. I was surprised by the outcome, though AI didn’t give him much of an ear; his clothes don’t make any sense; and he’s got some very serious swelling of the skull. I worked with the eyes, nose, and mouth.
The image quality the AI produced is also crap, and unusable as it is. Compare it blown up to the size of the final image in this eye detail [you’ll have to click on it to see a larger view]:
There was a curious problem in this piece which kept happening. I’d keep working on it and then not like it anymore, and then revert to an earlier version. Then I’d make some changes, not like it again, and revert back. In the end I just decided to stop making substantive changes, and finish up working on the details. The last file was named, “Last ditch effort”, as I was that close to giving up. Speaking of details…
Here’s the full piece again.
And 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).