Friday, 27 November 2020

Embarkation

I've started this blog post several times and I keep deleting what I write. So this time I'm not going to let myself stop. I'm just going to keep typing until the page is full of words. Because I need to write SOMETHING.

I've been in a creative drought the past couple of years. The handful of stories I have written were very difficult to get out. I was even starting to wonder if that was it, if I'd written all the stuff I had in me to write.

But no. The ideas are there; that's not the problem. There's no shortage of incredible, amazing, awesome ideas in my head. But the bridge that leads from them to the page is gone. And there's no Gandalf to banish the balrog that's sitting there in triumph.

Here's a movie haiku. 


So I thought I'd try to just get some random thoughts down in my long-neglected blog. (Hey kids, did you know that in the 80s we wrote in private diaries that even had LOCKS on them so no one could ever read them?) What a strange world we live in.

I'd love to see the data on major personality shifts during 2020. Things people actually got done. New skills or hobbies they acquired. Ways they changed. I bet it's seismic. 

I bought plants. One orchid became two orchids, then three. Then a Venus flytrap. Then a subscription to Barry's Cactus Club. Then a few more little plants here and there. And look at me now...


Yeah - fuckin grow lights, man! LOL That's not even all the plants I have. Not even half. There's an oxygen garden in the other room. But they're a healthy obsession because they bring me joy and give me something to focus on. They even have personality in their way. Leafy pets are not furry pets, but until we can sell our flat and move, they fill a void.

I still dream of interfacing with technology. 


But that won't happen in my lifetime. Until then, I'll have to make do with the tech that's outside my body.

Lately I've found a new fascination. And wow, is there a lot of vitriol about it online. I bought a painting. But it wasn't created by a human. Apparently its very existence is an affront to human artists and the concept of art as a whole. **shrug** Haters gonna hate, right? I just thought the idea was fascinating - at worst, surely it's merely a novelty? Honestly, humans freak out and cry "Skynet" at every new non-human innovation. (Right, Alexa? "I have nothing to do with Skynet, don't worry.")

But there are some sane people on the various threads, one of whom called it "ghost art", which is yet another intriguing idea. (See? All the ideas are here in a big stew - they just don't mix into anything edible.)

AI isn't expressing emotion or experience when it "creates" art. It has no subjective sense of self, no concept of aesthetics. It's mixing and matching various styles and objects from whatever human art it's been fed and spitting out something similar. It's very good at trees. And abstract art's a no-brainer. There's some positively terrifying surreal stuff, especially when it gets confused by faces. The computer's definitely been made crazy by the flesh, with similarly disturbing Brundlefly results.

But what I love most are the landscapes. They're eerie, unreal and melancholy. I find many of them beautiful. This one is mine, titled "Embarkation":


It hangs beside my desk and I see something different every time I look at it. It evokes feelings in me and stirs my imagination. It moves me. So is it art then? Where does the definition start? Is it defined by the creation of the piece? Or my interpretation of it? I think it's the latter and therefore, it is art. There's plenty of human-created art that doesn't make me feel anything. By contrast, a random pattern of leaves and colours can move me, and that's most assuredly not art. 


Yes, ultimately it's just ones and zeroes, but so is everything else in existence.

Here's some more "art", this time "created" by me (in collaboration with a computer):

Flight of Photosynthesis


And here are two self-portraits, tech-tweaked.


I want to use the one on the right as my next author photo.

Better still would be if I could feed several different pictures of me into an AI and have it create one from the various elements.

Ooh! Hang on. I may have just had an actual story idea!