Things I Think Are Awesome #14: Poetic Imagery and Lemons
I enjoyed this piece in the NYT on collage and cubism at a Paris cafe today. It made me think of other media artists like Adele Karmazyn, who makes amazing photo montages and collages. And it made me think of fan fiction, as most mashup media art does.
AI Art And Tech Links
I have started Bruno Simon's online Three.js course, which is very good. It's long and well-made and calm and delivered in a lovely French accent (or you can just read it), so I think it will be worth the money.
I made a little web site of ArXiv articles on text generation in several categories of interest to me, including story, games, knowledge graphs, image2text, poetry and dialogue. There is also a page of links to other resources on text generation here. Help me grow it? (This was supposed to be a quick weekend project but it took 2 weeks for dumb reasons. Why does everything take a long time right now?)
Among the resources above, I especially like Mark Riedl's recent article An Introduction to AI Storytelling and Stephen Ware's syllabus for his Interactive Narrative class.
OpenAI announced image generator DALL-E and released CLIP and we all went nuts, for some version of we and nut. DALL-E is "smart" enough to be able to be able to generate strange scenes it has never been trained on, including radishes in tutus taking walks and this set of rooms with pictures of Darth Vader over traditional fireplaces. You can play with a lot of preset weird combos in their fun blog post.
CLIP is an efficient visual classifier and can be used to steer generative models like BigGAN, as Twitter experimenters have shown. Using the code notebook by Eyal Gruss, I generated these creepy "castle in the woods" and "tower on the hill" pics. (ETA: some lost in move from Tinyletter.)
That notebook links to a bunch of other CLIP notebooks to try out. The "Big Sleep" notebook by @advadnoun will take much longer to run but the results may be better. (Although currently my ruined tower picture is a blob of orange and green after a couple hours.)
Meanwhile, Travis Hoppe (@metasemantic) tried running lines of poetry through CLIP-indexed images from Unsplash and got some great results. You can try his poetry image lookup app. Some lines come out great... others not so much!
(Maybe a Black Metal Cats vibe there.)
I haven't had time to try my own apps with it yet... in relevant reads, this article about the running and management of Gumroad as a side job for everyone so they can work on their art and personal projects really resonated with me. I'm still playing in VR, but my job and a weird need to stare are birds blankly outside my window are cutting into my play time :)
It's been a less meh month! I really liked Lupin, the French modern take on the gentleman thief in Paris now on Netflix. I also finally dove into the French Call My Agent! ("Dix Pour Cent" in French, or "10%") which is alternately snicker-inducing and heart-warming and is also set in Paris. I wish I knew more of the iconic French stars showing up in it but I sure knew Audrey Fleurot from Spiral ("Engrenages"), which I also recommend.
I've been bingeing True Blood recently, which is sappier than I recall, but I do love the atmosphere and supporting cast.
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott was fun space opera, although it presents you with a dizzying number of races and characters to grapple with. Sun herself was my least favorite but the space battles and aliens are fun.
I tore through The Passage by Cronin, which was a good post-apocalyptic vampire virus thing even though it has so much eye-rolling deus-ex-machina and coincidence ("we just happened upon this field of fruit trees and this outdoor sports store when we were starving and needed supplies"). And a lot of mystical fore-knowledge. Hmm. Still, a page turner. Not sure I'll read the sequels?
I expected The Queen of the Tearling to be a slight YA fantasy, but it's much better than that. Good heroine, weird world, tough characters and politics, and yes, magic. Reading book 2 now.
It seems true that smelling lemon and orange in the middle of winter is really cheering. I made a lemon tarte and then this Blueberry Polenta Orange Cake (only I did it with lemon and some almond meal) and they were briefly transporting (like, to a warmer clime).
Open the book of evening to the page
where the moon, always the moon appears
between two clouds, moving so slowly that hours
will seem to have passed before you reach the next page
where the moon, now brighter, lowers a path
to lead you away from what you have known
into those places where what you had wished for happens,
its lone syllable like a sentence poised
at the edge of sense, waiting for you to say its name
once more as you lift your eyes from the page
close the book, still feeling what it was like
to dwell in that light, that sudden paradise of sound.
--Mark Strand (via the excellent @poetryisnotaluxury)
I think lots of us are struggling a lot right now. If you are, you are not alone. This list of 100 Hacks for Boosting Your Happiness Chemicals might help (via Recommendo). This Atlantic piece on weak tie friendships going away spoke to me. I'm not going to feel bad about the chocolate, the wine, the cakes, the mac and cheese, the TV and games and sea shanties right now, and don't think you should either.
Hang in there, and say "hi" on twitter or drop me a note,