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