When I started noodling with midjourney, I used Ronald Reagan and Marilyn Monroe as prompts, because I figured there were lots of pictures of them.
So, I have a huge collection of renderings of famous people doing silly things or in bad situations. It’s fun to let me mind wander and then challenge the AI to come up with something. It’s also frustrating because the programmers who developed the AI have a really simplistic model for preventing “bad” images from being created: they block certain key words.
Bloody fucking hell. For example it also stops “bikini” and “bathing suit” – so much for renderings of bikini atoll being poisoned by nuclear fallout. It’s ridiculously simplistic. Naturally, I wanted to get some more sexier renderings of Marilyn of the Fifty Fingers, but it now checks your prompt images for “NSFW” content. So, something that was a scene in a major motion picture, such as Sue Lyon as Lolita in the film by Stanley Kubrick, cannot be used as a prompt for Ronald Reagan portraits. It’s all fucking sad, because the Bad People who want to make fake images are willing to go to the trouble to download their own copy of the model and run it on their own GPU after editing the stupid python script that searches for “bad” key words. Bloody hell.
By the way, this is what Midjourney came up with when I substituted “messy” for “bloody”:
Notice how the AI correctly rendered Thatcher’s layered shark teeth. Some politicians have evolved with layers of teeth so that if they lose one they can continue chomping at the public teat.
I do like how the AI somehow reached down into the soul of the dataset and rendered the innate viciousness of Thatcher. When she’s done killing those zombies, she’s going to cut their entitlements to the bone and put them out on the streets with beggars’ cups, for sure.
See how my mind wanders? Now, of course I am thinking “I gotta do Marilyn Monroe and Ronald Reagan fighting back to back against a horde of thatcherite zombies who want to cut their entitlements.” etc.
Since I’m rambling, let me also mention that the AI’s “no erotica filter” exists, it does not (exactly) have a “no violence filter” – this is emblematic of American media: you can have all the violence you can handle but naked male buttocks? Worried parents (I do not believe this for a second) will be up in arms at the idea of their children seeing such a horror. Is it possible to connect American media’s violence, and its imperial violence? Or perhaps mass shootings? Would it be possible that American incels might grow up with a more balanced appreciation of sexuality if it wasn’t treated like something nasty and secret that the CIA developed?
The issue has to do with titillation, literally. We see an image and it makes us give ourselves a little shot of serotonin, dopamine, or adrenaline (depending) and then we realize we can mash that button again and again. Obviously, I’m simplifying but that’s pretty much the mechanism in a nutshell. Meanwhile, periodically, you’ll get some dipshit fundamentalist erotophobe saying “there’s too much sex in rap videos” while they masturbate to John Wick endlessly shooting non-player characters in balletic, overproduced, glory. I enjoyed the John Wick series but, really, America’s got a problem if it’s making movies about how some guy kills hundreds of bystanders and helpless security drones because some other guy killed his dog and (in a nod to capitalist excess) stole his gas guzzling product placement-mobile. Desensitize, much?
For reasons of brain fart, I also got on two other riffs: Warhammer armor and skateboards. I spent a while feeding pictures of Tony Hawk and Richelieu into Midjourney to get Richelieu in his cardinal’s robes doing a kick turn. Louis XIV going down the stairs at Versailles was next. And, of course, there was Marilyn in Warhammer armor (you’ve seen that) and on a skateboard:
It got the Peter Lindbergh lighting but not the cultural baggage, which is that Lindbergh often includes lighting gear in his images, to produce a sort of photo-recursion.
[As I type this, midjourney is crunching away at margaret thatcher in warhammer armor]
Still elegant. I have to admit, I was fetched.
So naturally, I asked it to wind the clock back the other way. What the AI came back with really intrigued me. By the way, you can’t say “beautiful and sexy” but “beautiful and coquettish” works. Stupid programmers. You can’t ask for “Marilyn Monroe in lingerie” but “Marilyn Monroe in an elegant cream satin peignoir” may still work until they add “elegant” to the Bad Words List.
Interesting, right? It rendered a pre-plastic surgery version of Marilyn. But it also rendered a post-plastic version with the hands of time wound back.
Somehow the AI thought that when I said “Margaret Thatcher” I wanted Queen Margaret:
If any of you want to send me a few images from your AI arting, please email me and I’ll feature you as a guest AI-driver!
Now I have to get back to my attempt to produce “Marilyn Monroe sitting on Voltaire’s lap…”
OK one final comment on John Wick then I’ll shut up: this guy is supposed to be the supreme super duper assassin – the scariest scary guy to ever scare anyone. So why does he wade in to every situation like he’s playing Doom, instead of just killing his one target with a sublimely elegant attack from a distance? The best ninja plants his knife where years later his foe will walk onto it. John Wick is an exercise in American collateral damage and I sometimes wonder whether that is deliberate.
Look at the painting of Josh Hawley running in the background!