Tag Archives: Art

Vader and DALL-E

If you’ve been around some parts of the internet lately you may have run across a recent obsession with DALL-E, and AI art generation program that takes prompts you feed it and attempts to generate output based on it.  Specifically, a variation called DALL-E Mini, which pulls data from the internet to create art based on prompts has been quite the sensation on Twitter for the last couple of weeks.  There are several accounts on Twitter that repost images.  I follow Weird Dall-E Generations to get my fix of the strange.

The whole thing lends itself to the creativity of people who come up with prompts like The Demogorgon from Stranger Things as a guest star on Friends or The Crucifixion as a Fortnite Event or Smurfs being teargassed in Portland that generate some interesting output.

My daughter and I text each other some of the examples we find fun.

But my own initial plan for DALL-E was to take one subject and play with parameters around them.  One of the things you can do is specify a style, like courtroom sketch or fisheye lens or CCTV, which is where I started.  My subject was, for no particular reason, Darth Vader.

Courtroom sketch of Gandalf suing Darth Vader

Then I saw people were specifying artists, which sent me off on another path.

A can of Goya beans painted by Francisco Goya

I went down that path for a while.

A dumpster fire drawn by Norman Rockwell

Each prompt gets you a panel of nine output images.  In the DALL-E Mini app you can click on the panels to get a slightly larger version, though they are not very high in resolution.  But given the speed of the output and the number of people using the tool, that isn’t unreasonable.

Eventually I got back onto Darth Vader and having him rendered by various artists.  The natural starting place seemed to be Dali… because DALL-E and all.

Darth Vader painted by Salvador Dali

I actually liked a couple of those panels.  They were at least worthy of avatar images.

The persistence of Vader

Then I went to Picasso.

Darth Vader painted by Picasso

And that got me off on a whole riff of artists.

Fransisco Goya.

Darth Vader painted by Francisco Goya

Johannes Vermeer.

Darth Vader painted by Vermeer

Is panel eight supposed to be Padme?  Leia?

As a New Yorker Cartoon.

Darth Vader drawn as a New Yorker cartoon

Darth Vader as a cave painting.

Darth Vader as a cave painting

Darth Vader drawn by Al Jaffee of MAD Magazine.

Darth Vader drawn by Al Jaffee

That got me off on a tangent for a bit.

Darth Vader and Alfred E Newman smoking weed

I did a whole range of “x smoking weed with Snoop Dogg” including Snoopy.

But then it was back onto artists.

Darth Vader painted by Grandma Moses

Some artists worked better than others for me, though I think the subject of Darth Vader was limiting.  I couldn’t get much out of other MAD Magazine artists, and Norman Rockwell Darth Vader just seemed like Darth Vader mostly.

Darth Vader painted by Norman Rockwell

Monet was okay, though nothing special.

Darth Vader painted by Monet

And Jackson Pollock didn’t exactly break new ground… though I don’t know what I was expecting at that point.

Darth Vader painted by Jackson Pollock

And then I hit on Roy Lichtenstein.  Now that had a style.

Darth Vader painted by Roy Lichtenstein

And then I was off on a Roy Lichtenstein phase for a while.

Margaret Thatcher invading the Falklands by Lichtenstein

Revisiting some previous options.

A Dumpster Fire by Roy Lichtenstein

And finding some new avatar worthy output.

Mark Twain painted by Roy Lichtenstein

All of which is really just a summary of how I wasted a bunch of time over the past week or so.  If you follow me on Twitter you no doubt saw a few of these already.  But I put some there I didn’t use here and vice versa.

And, honestly, having done this, now I think I might have to explore more of Mark Twain.  He has a unique and more elastic look than Darth Vader I think.

Mark Twain painted by Salvador Dali

Of course, not everything is a success, mild or otherwise.  Firiona Vie isn’t, for example, popular enough to be a guest star on friends.  I thought Bananarama eating bananas at the cinerama was destined for glory, but ended up rather disappointing.  And I have yet to get a decent viking in a spaceship.  But I persist.

And my current all-time most popular tweet is Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace painted by Pablo Picasso, but only because Kai Ryssdal retweeted it to his followers.  So a shout out to Kai and Marketplace!

Anyway, if you want to waste some time with this, you can find the version of DALL-E mini I have been using here.


Video Games, Art, and Time

Roger Ebert was feeling cranky the other day and declared that video games are not and can never be art.

The whole thing seems rather pointless, like a kid going out of his way to kick over somebody else’s blocks in pre-school.  But the man is a professional cinema critic, so it is probably tough to take off that critic’s hat when you get home.  And, of course, now other people are throwing out their own opinions on the subject.

The crux of Ebert’s argument seems to be that video games are interactive and, thus, not art.

This is a point of view to which no small number of artists, people who Roger Ebert would likely recognize as artists (who is an artist being a whole different argument and even more slippery than who is press), would object.  Interactivity is not at all an uncommon aspect of art.

My own pass through Art Appreciation at University was with a professor (and artist) who had a very inclusive view on what was art.  Or at least I think he did.  I was still working out negative space while he was going on about that.

Art is more about having a message, about communicating something to people, than about the medium the artists chooses.   Anybody who declares something “not art” because they object to the medium is kidding themselves.  Art is not the medium.  Art is the message, the intent.

And, looking at it from the other direction, merely using a recognized artistic medium does not make something art.  All movies are not art.  Every time a brush is applied to canvas, art is not magically created.  All those photographs people take, they are not all art.

Now, I would certainly entertain the proposition that no current video game has been created as art.

I would say you weren’t looking hard enough.  You’re not going to find art using a video game format as the medium on the shelf at GameStop.  It is as likely that something create to be a video game would be immediately recognized as art as… no, I’m not going to create a distracting analogy that people will argue about rather than the point I’m trying to make… let’s just say it would be unlikely and leave it at that.

But that is just my opinion.  Anybody trying to come up with an absolute definition of art is on a fool’s errand.

And all of this leads to another notion, one put forth by Lore Sjöberg in a piece he did for Wired, that video games are too recent to be seriously considered as art.  That, as a medium, video games haven’t aged enough to be viewed as art.

And while his column is pitched as humor, it does have a ring of truth to it.

In the end, I don’t know art, but I know what I like.  Or something like that.