Imagination and Creativity

(There’s a new image below following the text!)

Generative image AI works by analyzing millions of images and organizing them in a network. It assigns probabilities to different elements and relationships. When given a prompt, the AI uses this network to create an image related to the prompt. However, AI-generated content may not always be accurate or unbiased.

The irony in almost all A.I. systems is that while we generally know how it works, we don’t really understand why it works. But I think it’s fair to say that the A.I. searches its network for elements and connections that address the instructions provided in a prompt. Is this creative? Is it an example of real imagination? Perhaps not in the strictest human sense, but consider.

When it comes to creating art, like painting, there are different ways to be creative. If you’re new to painting, it’s common to start by copying others. But as you gain experience, you learn about colors, shapes, and textures. You also get inspiration from your own memories and the work of other artists. We store all of this information in your brain, forming a network of knowledge that helps you create.

When I paint, I gather information from my brain and use it to create my artwork. Similarly, AI uses its network of connections to generate content. This suggests that AI and our brains may share some understanding of creativity.

Comments welcome? What do you think?

Can’t have a blog post without an image. Here is a recent A.I. generated image.

I should be more or less routinely supplying the prompt for A.I. generated images. The prompt for this country scene in autumn is “a photorealistic image of a country scene in autumn, with a lake, and a family having a picnic alongside the lake, natural midafternoon light,lens 50mm f16 –ar 3:2 –s 200

Synthetic Photography

I have long admired the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, especially his flowers. I have tried to replicate this work, capturing the control, creativity, and sensuality implicit in his works. Mostly unsuccessfully. Now, with the aid of generative A.I. I can come up with something close.

It’s not a photograph, and I would never claim it to be. It’s a digital image creation. It’s developed with an image A.I. program. (I use Midjourney, one of the most popular new image A.I.’s, and I think one of best both in terms of the range of what might be possible and the relative ease of use.) Note that I don’t try to create fantasy images or extreme abstract images. Rather, my aim is to combine a sensitivity to the conventions and mechanisms of traditional photography with the generating ability based on millions of image “learned” by the A.I. to create photorealistic images.

For example, here are the instructions (a “prompt”) passed to Midjourney to create the calla lily above: Closeup photo of white calla lily lying on table,sharp, black background,studio lighting from front, film Kodak T-max 400, lens 105mm, f16. The command that tells Midjourney to process this prompt is /Imagine. I think that command is apt and conveys a lot of meaning if we think about it. In essence, both of us, I and the A.I., are engaging in a kind of imagination. I’m trying to imagine the descriptions, along with parameters and other inputs, that may get me the image I want. The A.I. is being asked to imagine the kinds of images that would correspond to the prompt.

Floral and botanical images have long been a mainstay of my photographic interests. Here are some examples of floral images I have generated with Midjourney.

More examples of some of my Midjourney adventuring are in further blog posts along with a discussion of creativity and more about A.I. image processing. (Note: If you’ve come here direct from the blog [If you subscribed to the blog, this is the page you’ll land on] don’t miss the images on the site front page, here.)