Stacked Deck

By Julius Lang

The idea behind this piece started quite early in the course when experimenting with Artbreeder. The two things I found especially interesting with the artificial intelligence algorithm was how smoothly it could combine elements from multiple images with significant differences and how in the portrait creation mode, it could make relatively random and unclear images so life-like. I wanted to experiment with pushing the algorithm to the limit in terms of intricate details and uploading images as far removed from real portraits as possible and still create undeniably human features. The three face cards of hearts were cross breeded on Artbreeder to create a new ‘mutant’ face card (X of hearts) combining elements from each. Portrait mode was used to enhance the human features of the resulting image and see what the AI could make of the abstract facial features of the century’s old designs.

The inspiration behind using the designs of face cards as the subject matter for the piece came from wanting to combine elements from a concept that has existed for millennia and designs that are hundreds of years old with technology to create something completely new. There is something cool, about using subject matter so far removed from the present as data/input for an artificial intelligence program to continue the evolution of the original idea.

Using old art and ideas as inputs and inspiration in AI-art has seen interesting developments recently in the recreation of styles of famous artists from the past. I do not find this to be as big of an ethical or IP issue as some others because art is ultimately for the enjoyment of others and why not build on something that people enjoy. Musicians have been taking ideas from each other for centuries and building on those to create masterpieces. I see a future where AI is used to create art that people like without always even being able to explain why, by expanding on ideas from the past, like in music. Stacked Deck is an experiment on how far a relatively simple program can be pushed in this genre whilst retaining human features from abstract inputs.

Final artwork
The image produced by Artbreeder from combining the three face cards

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