A nightmare face haunts AI art, and there’s a reason not to look away

It’s out there somewhere, lurking in a parallel universe of possibilities. All you have to do to summon it into existence is type the correct prompt into the AI ​​image generator.

Like a digital incantation, the lyrics will reveal the strange face of a middle-aged woman with dead eyes, a vacant stare, and an annoyed grimace.

Her name is Loab (pronounced like “lobe”), and she was “discovered” by a Sweden-based artist called compound on Twitter.

Supercomposite is among the first wave of modern creators to explore the realms of text-to-image artificial intelligence generators. This year, while experimenting with negative prompts (which ask machine learning algorithms to find the exact opposite of something), the artist stumbled upon a creepy face.

When Supercomposite ran the claim again, they said the same woman was back, this time next to the word “loab.”

“The AI ​​has reproduced her more easily than most celebrities. Her presence is constant, haunting every photo she touches,” Supercomposite books on Twitter in a thread in September 2022 about the discovery of Loab.

“Sit down. This is a real horror story and it takes a sharp turn.”

With a hook like that, it’s no wonder Loab set out to take the internet by storm. The photo of this mysterious woman is now so well known that she even has her own Wikipedia page.

Part of the Lube puzzle is what it stands for. The Loab figure has become a kind of “tronie” in the modern era – a type of art form from the Dutch Golden Age that exaggerates facial expression – One Do not represent a person, but an idea.

Loeb’s story is a little more terrifying than… Saythe most famous tronie theme titled The girl with the pearl earring. More deeply, it was not made by a human artist who could tell us more about the idea they were trying to represent.

Among the hundreds of Loab iterations that Supercomposite has been called into existence feature several Chopped or screaming children in the background. Some of the AI-generated images were so hideous that the artist decided not to share them publicly.

“I’d tear Loab apart and put it back together. It’s an emerging island in latent space that we don’t know how to locate using text queries,” Writes The artist on Twitter.

“You find everyone sooner or later. You just have to know where to look,” Supercomposite Add.

Loeb has captured the world’s attention for more than just her nightmarish qualities. It was plucked out of the abyss by what he calls Supercomposite “statistical emergency”Scary Woman represents a new era of creativity for which we may or may not be ready.

Brendan Murphy, a photographer and digital media lecturer at Central Queensland University in Australia, spends much of his spare time thinking about the future of artificial intelligence and sampling images and text generators.

With the recent explosion of technology, he believes the art world is heading for a paradigm shift, much like when photography arrived on the scene in the early 19th century.

Today, when Murphy uses AI to make art, he thinks of it like shooting a landscape, walking around somewhere and looking for interesting things to capture. Except, in this case, the landscapes he explores are some kind of parallel universe to human art.

After all, AI generators are trained on human knowledge, culture, and art traditions, which means we could have reasonably done anything they created.

These unrealized possibilities are now here for people to find, and Morphe and Super Composite are among the first to join the hunt.

“There are things that you see that interest you, that you really want to amplify, and you really want to go in that direction,” Murphy explains to ScienceAlert.

“There’s no reason to go down those paths. And maybe there are really good reasons why people should never go down those paths. Because it probably won’t impress anyone or sell anything.”

This is not to say that the use of AI in art is trivial. Instead, Murphy says AI is a tool that artists can use to enhance their artistic practices. And every now and then, a precious character like Loeb appears from the abyss.

“I think the thing about Loab is that it’s a great story. It’s not just technology. It’s looking at what drives technology. It’s looking at the possibility of technology,” he explains.

“And I think that’s great. I think that’s a valid work of art. Much more true than just creating a certain AI image. There’s a lot of thinking, a lot of experimentation, a lot of iteration.”

Anne Bloin, a digital sociologist at the Oxford Internet Institute who researches the potential impact of machine learning on creative work, shares a similar view.

“AI models can extrapolate in unexpected ways [and] drawing attention to a factor that is not fully recognized in a particular style of painting,” says Bloen.

“But machine learning models are not standalone. They will not create new art movements on their own.”

Murphy and other art experts think it’s doubtful that artificial intelligence will wipe out human creativity, at least not entirely. Art, after all, only exists if humans value it, and as a species we tend to be very prejudiced about our abilities.

Going forward, AI-generated artworks could lead us to question artistic conventions and explore our emotional reactions to images, says Murphy.

But we are entering a world in which many writing and drawing services can become redundant, wiping out the jobs of many ghostwriters, illustrators, designers, and photographers.

The explosion of art created by artificial intelligence in recent months has raised concerns that algorithms are ripping off artists by replicating their distinctive patterns.

The best human artists will no doubt continue to compete with AI, and Murphy suspects that it will be those creators who tend to be more humane who will have the most success in the future.

A public face and a tangible, real identity can be more important to artists than ever before. “No matter how apps like Lensa influence the way art is made, the artist’s personality remains an important context for their work,” Murphy recently wrote in The Conversation.

ChatGPT is an AI-based text generator released to the public in November 2022. Its name stands for Chat Generative Pre-trainer Transformer, with an engine based on evaluating the probability of certain words following each other in a block of text, not unlike a supercharged version of the predictive text feature with your phone.

Like Loab, there seems to be a ghostly presence in the program’s responses that test the limits of human knowledge and creativity. Although the veneer doesn’t take much time to fall off, it does reveal its wires as a “parrot” rolling dice gambling producing the correct word strings to fool us.

Any wisdom it provides is still left for us to separate and judge. When asked how AI is changing art, ChatGPT agrees with Murphy:

“Artificial intelligence is transforming the way art is created, perceived, and experienced. AI algorithms can be used to create new forms of art, such as music, poetry, and visual art. These algorithms can also be used to analyze and interpret existing artworks in new and interesting ways. In addition, they are being used AI technology to create interactive art installations and performances that can respond and interact with viewers in real time. Overall, AI enables artists to create and explore new forms of expression, and for viewers to experience art in new and exciting ways.”

The boundaries of artistic practice are widening, and Luab is just the beginning.

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