Mirrors of an Artificial Mind

An artist fed 600 modern portraits into a neural network, which the AI saw, as if through shimmering depths of water, as a series of dreamlike and goblinesque "reflections."


Artist Statement:

I’ve been fascinated by how computers see us when they are competing against us in a video game, taking dictation, or pondering some of our greatest artworks. To discover more of their view of us, I have given an AI (neural network) a set of 600 modern portraits painted in the 1950s to 1990s, and then asked it to reflect what it saw.

The result is a set of portraits that highlight features any human portrait artist would not call forward automatically. The AI focuses on long necks while forgetting the size of the head, the outline of the face while forgetting the nose and eyes and falling in love with the unibrow (well, that one is common for human and AI artists).

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Michael Powers is a painter and AI artist collaborator. His painting works involve free standing abstract works in oil called Towers which hover between 7 and 9 feet tall. He also develop AI networks to chew on famous artworks and his own paintings to produce unique reflections back from this unique creative partner. The computer AI is not a camera, it is in most regards a full partner once dreamed of by sci-fi writers. Michael is a software engineer and startup junkie. He was a member of the YouTube founding team and 5 other startups. He is fascinated by how computers see us and seek to engage our awareness beyond that tasks we often bring to this new 'tool.' Michael lives in Maui on a farm.

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