Saturday, November 20, 2021

Nine Pictures

I did warn you this would happen. It's eight in the evening, I haven't even logged in to do my Guild Wars 2 dailies yet, let alone anything more interesting and yet I still don't want to skip a day, so here comes something I prepared earlier. Although "prepared" may  be stretching a point a little.

I was curious how Artflow would interpret some of my favorite fictional characters. My first attempt, which was more of a title than a character, came out rather well, if you think Uncle Wiggly was an elderly fisherman rather than an elderly rabbit. Also I just now realize I spelled his name wrong.

After that debacle I tried just putting in the character names but I didn't much like the results. Then it occured to me to try adding the name of an artist to use their style as a kind of filter. The AI seems pretty well-versed in that sort of thing.

I had a brief think about who I could try. I'd already done a few pop stars as they might look if David Hockney had done their portraits, as indeed he could easily have done but I for some reason the AI seemed to think Hockney's defining trope was making people look like they'd fallen asleep in the Californian sun while lounging around the pool in his Los Angelean home.

That didn't seem like it was going to work for the pasty, New York intellectuals I had in mind. I toyed with Warhol but it seemed a little too on the nose. Rothko seemed like he might be interesting but only in a metaphysical fashion. I couldn't see how it would actually bring anything to the experiment other than another color wash.

While I was trying to come up with something better, Roy Lichtenstein popped into my mind, as he so often does if I start thinking randomly about art. Not that I'm a particular fan of his work or even of Pop Art in general, although obviously I like it well enough, who doesn't? It's more that he's so brash and loud he tends to push his way to the front.

I took a couple of shots at it to see what popped up and they weren't at all bad. They might have been even better if I'd spelled the artist's name right. I sense a theme developing here...

I find it fascinating how consistent they are. They really do look as though they'd been painted by the same artist. I'm not sure that artist would be Roy Lichtenstein but I guess it could have been Roy Leichtenstein.

They didn't look anything like the versions of the characters in my head, though. Phoebe is too old and also far too sophisticated. Seymour looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag. Holden looks the best of the three but I always imagined him to be a lot thinner in the face. The hair and the sullen, defeated-yet-confrontational expression are pretty close, though.

Just then, probably because I'd been talking about her earlier that day, I thought of Cindy Sherman. At this point I'd dearly love to just let that lie there while I bask in it. I'd love to be thought of the kind of person who has casual conversations about Cindy Sherman over afternoon tea. 

What actually happened was that Mrs Bhagpuss and I watched an old episode of Pointless on YouTube and there was a question where you had to name a female American photographer from a picture. Not one of her pictures, a picture of her.  I've already forgotten who it was. It might have been Dorothea Lange. I know at the time I could only think of Diane Arbus and I knew it wasn't her. 

Anyway, it started me thinking about Cindy Sherman, who I like enough to have a picture by, up on the wall in a room downstairs, cut out of a magazine and snap-framed about a quarter of a century ago. I figured she'd be worth a try.

Yeah... kinda.

As you can see I went all out for accuracy and consistency in the seeds and I damn well got it, too. What I don't think I really got, once again, were either the characters or the artist as I'd imagined them. 

I can see a touch of Cindy Sherman in the shots of Phoebe and Franny. There's a hint of that processed color I like about some of her stuff. The backgrounds also seem to have some redolence of what I remember about her work in a certain period, although I suppose that's just pure chance.

Phoebe's too old again. I think I'd have to specify her age to get anything remotely close. Other than that, and especially if she wiped off that lipstick, she's not too far out of line. Franny looks closer to my idea of her, Cindy Sherman or not, and Zooey isn't far off, either. Seymour is at least possible. I don't have a super-strong image of him to begin with, although I see him as well-built and solid with a more traditionally masculine look than the rest of the Glass family. This version is that, at least.

I can't say I have any particular notion what Buddy might look like except he sure as hell wouldn't look like he does here, where he reminds me of Hugh Laurie playing the role of a supercilious officer in a movie about the War Between the States. Not sure which side he'd be on. Maybe he's not, either.

Holden, I think, looks less like himself than he did under Lichtenstein's influence. He looks like a young Dean Martin caught in the middle of removing his stage makeup. He's got that worn-down, ready to give up look again, which is right, but this time he doesn't seem to have the energy left to be belligerent.

Anyway, there you have it, for what it's worth. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I might just have enough time before bed to get those dailies done.

I'm working again tomorrow so I may very well have to trot out the results of my attempts to actualize the main cast of C.S. Lewis's Narnia stories. There's something to look forward to, eh?

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