Art seems to have existed the minute we realised we could express our dreams on cave walls, sand and papyrus. Dreams seem to have permeated music, with such luminaries as Paul McCartney claiming that ‘Yesterday’ was a song he heard in a dream and John Lennon dreaming up ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’.
My first, disconcerting brush with dream like, metaphysical or disturbing art was the extraordinary ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ by the deliciously named Hieronymus Bosch. As an avid 13 year old art student, I was as much enamoured by the name of the artist as the painting which had a profound affect on my senses. The painting seems to suggest that our Dreams reflect Heaven and our nightmares Hell, with the conclusion that life, like dreams, is fleeting and short-lived.
After Bosch, I discovered Max Ernst. I was so fascinated by Ernst, I wrote my ‘A’ Level Art thesis on the life and work of German artist. Ernst was an early pioneer of using Freud’s dream theories to establish the source of his own creativity.
If Bosch and Ernst were alive today, I would be in no doubt, they would have been early progenitors of Google’s Deep Dream. The premise that Artificial Intelligence can actually learn and dream is both fascinating and to some people, disconcerting. Strange images have been proliferating the internet in recent weeks and they have been attributed to Google Deep Dream.
Google Deep Dream is the work of Google Engineers. You may ask the point of these images. Is it an exercise in artificially inspired art or is it science? Google seem to suggest that it is a scientific experiment as they want to know how effectively computers learn.
The Google artificial neural network is configured like a computer brain and is based on the central nervous system of animals. The software works in layers. In the first layer, the source image is examined by ‘neurons’. This layer then communicates to the next layer which then processes the image. This process is repeated numerous times, with each layer identifying key features and isolating them, until it has established what the image is. The results can be exciting, interesting or genuinely disturbing.
I used the process to create 5 images from a master image. The original image is a simple photograph of Leaves. The other five images have been created by the Deep Dream neural network. Has artificial Intelligence achieved Descarte’s proclamation, “I think, therefore I am?”. Who knows but Digital Art & Artwork has revolutionised the graphics industry and who is to say ‘Artificially Intelligent’ generated Art will not be as influential in the 21st Century as Impressionism was in the early part of the 20th Century.
If you have any questions, or indeed have some interesting Deep Dream images, let me know. I will be asking my AI artist to create some more works and will be posting them in due course.
My name is Steve Howard – You have been reading the (Deep Dream Digital Circus)!