•  Creative CollaborationsFeaturedProjects • March 2019  •
COLLABORATION : Experimenting with A.I – ‘STYLE TRANSFER’ (2019)

What does it mean to be an artist in this digital age?

Well, from time to time, you might get e-mails from tech groups to invite you test out things like “Style-Transfer” using artificial intelligence for one!

When Qamra Khan from Women Techmakers KL wrote to ask if I would be willing to lend my image for her AI ‘Style Transfer’ project, I was apprehensive. I was fearful of being “exposed” like that you see. The very thought of a program being able to read your paint style was terrifying. We (artists) are just learning to get the hang of protecting our image rights, never mind A.I rights!  Having technology learn your style & then transfer it to anything opened a new can of worms to me.

But then again, I thought about Vincent Van Gogh, whose style has replicated, digitised, expressed into all forms including a feature length animation. THAT pegged me down. I also thought about what art school used to say about computers… it is just a tool, like a paint brush. As an artist you need to understand what that tool/technology can do for you. There is always a need for that human factor for art to have SOUL.

So what can this A.I style transfer do for me as an artist? That question made me say YES to the project as I was curious to see. I also loved the idea of the project was for International Women’s Day!

Simple explanation, style transfer is about teaching the computer your style of art by feeding it with images. The more you feed it the more it will understand your style better as below.

Future of A.I art?

The world is still in exploration mode when it comes AI but there have been developments for sure. Filmakers are testing out style transfer for video imagery, Christies auctioned it’s first piece of A.I art in  October 2018 

Is A.I art, art??

I found this excerpt from this article that nicely describes my thoughts!

“But if you consider the whole process, then what you have is something more like conceptual art than traditional painting. There is a human in the loop, asking questions, and the machine is giving answers. That whole thing is the art, not just the picture that comes out at the end. You could say that at this point it is a collaboration between two artists — one human, one a machine. And that leads me to think about the future in which AI will become a new medium for art.” – Ahmed Elgammal, director of the Art and Artificial Intelligence Lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The final piece above shows that the A.I understands my linear stylised work for sure. I love the spirit of the image but I know for sure that it doesn’t tell a story better than if it were done by a human. Machine and human will need to collaborate to have more meaningful, soulful pieces. This means more experimentions need to happen to get the best out of  this technology for sure. I am going to be following developments in this field with great interest from now on!

This turned out to be quite a lengthy entry! My apologies!  I think I just wanted to document everything for memories. I loved learning about the process as I have been curious. The possibilities of A.I on a larger scale is amazing but like all new things, it needs time to gestate. Perhaps one day I may even be able to do an art jam with A.I me. Who knows what that painting might be like, a new style could appear for me too. I am excited to discover!

Till then, here’s to more experiments!