Autumn 2023

Artificial idiot

Unpredictable, cliché’d, wonderful, neither artificial nor intelligent– is AI the dumbest new kid on the block or the future of illustration? Marian Bantjes explores the weird world of text-to-image generators [EXTRACT]

I have been working (or playing) with the text-to-image generator Midjourney since January 2023. First because type designer Jonathan Hoefler invited me on to the platform, second because I wanted to write about it – and the controversy surrounding the use of AI – but it felt wise to use it first to better understand what it does.

AI can be compared to slot-machine gambling. It is highly addictive and entertaining, but what you get out is images rather than money. Like a slot machine, it can take many pulls before you win, but sometimes you win on the first try. Like gambling, you can get a run of luck where most of the images are three bars of gold; and bad runs where nothing lines up, and after an hour or so you give up and walk away …

‘Four images from the series I named ‘WTF-’, because a mistake in my prompt made everything go nuts. The first set of images were bizarre enough for me to regenerate them, and an ever-morphing series of madness ensued. I made 78 iterations – all the same, but different – all incredibly weird.’ Top. Yellow Seal, generated early on when author Marian Bantjes started using Midjourney, 2023.

Marian Bantjes, graphic artist, writer, Bowen Island, Canada

Read the full version in Eye no. 105 vol. 27, 2023

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