An AI generated image, two painted faces.


Nov 8, 2023 | AI Collaborations, Art, Nightmares, Photoshop

Sometimes one feels split in two…

As I talked about earlier, I’ve been playing with Adobe’s Firefly on Photoshop, generally asking it to do things it’s probably not quite meant to do. I mean, all the videos I’ve seen have people talking about how great it that you can expand the edges of an image to make it bigger if it’s cropped too tight. Or fill in over something you don’t want to see. It is really rather good at that.

But what I want is something a bit more ambitious. I want Firefly to make whole pictures up, using a small amount of starting information. Previously I talked about where I asked it to merge between a kangaroo and an elephant. Here I asked it to fill in the gap between two slices of my own face, positioned at the far edges of a wide space. The results are, interesting. Have a look at these 60 AI imaginings and have a little think about what it means. 

I find it interesting because Firefly clearly recognises that the information it has is a face, it thinks it’s more than one face because of the distance between the eyes and so tries to fill in the space with more ‘face’ information. It’s interesting because, although it only had two narrow slices of information to go by, I sort of do recognise myself in the made up parts. It’s kind of uncanny, at least in some of them.

But it’s really interesting that, despite how close it gets, it still gets it so wildly, horribly wrong. Black, pinched and twisted noses, faces melting into each other, skin stretched and distorted. And it’s so very beautifully painterly. It reminds me of Marlene Dumas, whose work I adore, but who I didn’t even think to add to my prompt. I didn’t even write a prompt. In a future post I’m going to show some images that I think tell you a lot about what Firefly learnt from, but here I can’t imagine what these nightmare portraits are built from.

Anyway, I love these, I want to paint them for real. I want to spend a good long time thinking about who is the creator of this work, because I think it is work, I think it is art, that exists because I put a system into motion and then had very little involvement in producing. It’s an interesting question.