Drawing Rooms

Digital images created with generative AI and edited in Lightroom, 2023.

In generative AI training, digital materially of images is further virtualized, evaporated, diffused. These are fragments of fragments, in other words. Deposits of already broken forms. More fragmented then 18th century ruins admired by painters and visitors in Italy on Grand Tour. They are not like “glitches.” And they are not noise of telecommunication networks theorized by Claude Shannon.

They are artifacts of one possible AI aesthetics. It’s distributed knowledge and distributed vision. The future internet protocol invented over 60 years ago in late 1950s by Paul Baran suggested braking whole messages into pockets, to transmit them over distant networks more reliably. Breaking something into random parts paradoxically assured its survival. (And this how Internet still works today.)

Paul Baron published first description of his “pocket switching” concept in 1960 when he was working for RAND in the US. In the same years, Alexey Ivakhnenko and Valentin Lapa, two Soviet mathematicians working in Ukraine, invented another fundamental method for using fragments of a message in a productive fashion. Their invention was the first deep neural network - which eventually led to contemporary massive networks that also used in Generative AI. (See Juergen Schmidhuber, Annotated History of Modern AI and Deep Learning, https://zurl.co/w3z2.)

Breaking cultural artifacts during machine learning into fragments (such as image pixels and parts of the words) and then processing these fragments in stages eventually allows these networks to acquire knowledge that can produce synthetic text, images, music, spaces, code.

In short, by breaking historical human culture into fragments we get our new “generative AI” culture. The fragments of you see in this image series - breaking from the celling, covering the floor, floating in space gathered in strange "clouds" and so on - can be seen as a metaphor for this process. Perhaps in these images AI medium wants to reveal itself to us - to remind us that the seeming materiality of synthesized scenes is illusionary and fleeting, and behind it are endless debris of human cultural history.