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  • Writer's pictureEleanor Crook

Working with Ai Art: The Artificial Sublime

I bet you never thought I'd be the one to embrace a brand new gadgety technology - I who resurrect ancient art techniques, make everything painstakingly by hand and have only a lukewarm relationship with digital painting, and have never interested myself in CAD CAM or computer sculpting. If you follow my social media ( thanks to you who do!) you'll see I have been mind melding with an artificial intelligence art assistant called Midjourney, and this new affaire du coeur is a tempestuous when you meet someone you KNOW is not going to be good for you, but you simply cannot resist....getting involved....

After all every waxwork maker dwells in the Uncanny Valley where things pretend to be people, and what could be more uncanny than an art assistant who just might understand your imagination better than you do ?

Image: The Purpose we Really Cut / AI 2022

The system I use to make these images is under development and has changed even in the last fortnight. 100,000 users talk to it simultaneously, describing visions for it to make images of and render for them - 100,000 users whose aesthetic is not mine and in most cases is formed by the film and gaming industry, not a taste for Northern Gothic church art, 19th cent Decadence , wax anatomical modelling and Szukalski. SO the collaboration between me and it is vexed - I find I am constantly asking it to do the impossible, to wrong foot it, to get results that lie within my idiom and visual language. At its most disappointing it offers airbrushed fantasy art - at its most "me" it offers a powerful collage tool, chopping and splicing gods people materials and scenery, serving up surprises and the heartless disjointed bodies and misunderstood faces I enjoy from Francis Bacon, Boccioni, Szukalski.

Image: News in the head, referred as a black ribbon /AI 2022

On this website you can see plenty of my analogue work and judge how much of these images is me and how much is algorithm, no doubt. I only accept as mine the ones I feel to be consonant with my style and taste - the rest I'd not show or claim authorship of.

What's magnetic about the process is the Faustian deal: in exchange for my treasured sense of unique ownership and pride of honed creativity, I receive world class renderings, otherwise undiscoverable visual accidents, Caravaggio lighting if required and all my shortcomings as a draughtsman are forgive. Let me tell you straight - I can't draw like this on my own ( though I have friends who do) - and to learn to oil paint like this would take years. I COULD sculpt the things the AI renders, as modelling is my peculiar skill set. But the AI system feels like an amazing gift, the collage tool of my dreams, and although many artists fear its power and reach I don't - it's a new tool and needs to be moulded and made useful for each artist's purpose.

Image: Cathedral Donor / AI 2022

The reception from my audience of these AI / Crook collaborations has been very warm indeed and I've been asked to make them available, so I'll launch some for sale on my website this weekend. Not as NFT's unless someone really wants that, but as high quality signed limited edition frameable A2 or A3 prints, editions of 15 only, and when they're gone that's it for that image. If you would like to reserve one, drop me a line on the Contact button above, or they'll be in the webstore / For Sale button above from Saturday August 13th. I hope you'll enjoy taking this unexpected art journey with me - I'll post more about these electric dreams soon!

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