[Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories [Book 1]

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‘[Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories [Book 1]’ is a collaboration between Mez Breeze (human) x DALL-E2 (AI). This digital literature project explores the reality of AI-generated art [and its fusion with the English/code-hybrid language termed Mezangelle] and its application as the foundation of a human-AI alliance. On being invited by the OpenAI team [OpenAI being the organisation responsible for creating DALL-E, the AI employed in this Volume] to participate in their AI Artist Access Program, this resulted in the creation of this first Volume in a series of digital literature projects involving AI art generators.

“This book is mindbogglingly beautiful, evocative and provocative.”   Dr. Astrid Ensslin, Digital Culture and Digital Humanities at the Universities of Bergen and Alberta.

“An amazing and groundbreaking series of works.” – John Murray, Games and
Interactive Media department, University of Central Florida.

“Read ‘[Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories’ on as big a screen as you can. Beautiful, unsettling, and fascinating all at once.”  – Simon Groth, author of ‘Ex Libris’ and ‘Hunted Down and Other Tales’.

“The images in ‘[Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories’ are captivating!” Henry Warwick, School of Media at Toronto Metropolitan University.

“‘[Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories’ is a great human-machine collaboration.” – Vladimir Alexeev, OpenAI GPT-3 Ambassador.

“A grand accomplishment.” – Kevin Ang, XR Artists Collective Co-Founder and Bingkoland Director.

“Mez’s latest book [Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories’ will leave your jaw on the floor.”   Chris Harris, maker of ‘Out There’.

“‘[Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories’ is a thing of beauty”.  – Jessica Citizen, author, ‘Player Attack’.

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Around 25 years ago, a project that centred squarely on the concept of Artificial Intelligence and its implications for humankind was given life [so to speak/type]. This interactive fiction was called The MALFI Trials, with the term MALFI unpacking to ‘Multi-Artificial Life Form Interface’. MALFI was a fictionalised version of a more-human-than-human form of artificial intelligence, an AI hell-bent on manifesting autonomy. First written as a graphically weird short story, in 1996 MALFI later morphed forms to an interactive version that was showcased in an online Virtual Universe Forum/Symposium at Prague’s Goethe Institute, and [physically] in the Secondary Consciousness Exhibition at Israel’s Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art.

Considering how the notion of how AI can affect audiences [and the creative process in general] has been embedded in my creative consciousness for a few decades now, it’s no surprise on being invited by the OpenAI team [the team responsible for creating DALL-E, the AI employed in this Volume] to participate in their AI Artist Access Program, I quick-smart-jumped at the chance. After a successful onboarding into this Program, so began my creative tumble into the wonder[ous]-prompt-driven world that is DALL-E2.

The Introduction of the story-based version of The MALFI Trials begins with a reference to the corporation that is running the trials, INFODOM INC: “INFODOM INC has been striving to establish a prototype AI (Artificial Intelligence) with an autonomous function that will mimic the behaviours and emotional responses of a human being.  Trials run to date have proven to be successful with the results including the development of a computer-generated entity that partially achieves this aim.  The entity is the Multi Artificial Life Form Interface, or MALFI for short.”
This attempt by a fictional corporation to create a human-esque AI seems right at home in our current AI realityscape, as does the idea of harnessing AI technology to create dataset-moulded representations of human[kin]s when prompted – as in literally text-prompted – as DALL-E does.

All images included in this Volume were generated initially through the use of the second iteration of DALL-E [DALL-E2]: each included image was subsequently edited and enhanced through a digital editing process [photobashing + digital overpainting plus the addition of each accompanying microstory], and then book-channelled as visual icons where ambiguity as to the origins of such creatures run rife [are they supposed to represent AI entities represented in human form? Or perhaps as cosplaying humanoids intent on displaying AI-like traits?].

Whether you interpret the entities included here in [Por]TrAIts: AI Characters + Their Microstories as mere mechanised output illustrating microstory-sized text chunks, or contained AIs in and of themselves, or fictionalised humanoidish creaturlings, feel free to celebrate [with]in this imagery that plays with the idea of fusing what it is to be human [or at least human-ish] with something other.

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