When AI images started appearing on social media, I was impressed but didn’t find it particularly interesting. What changed my mind is the work of Rob Sheridan. His Spectagoria project involves spooky images produced with AI, which claim to be from the 1970s, originating in “a renowned underground fashion photography magazine surrounded by rumor and mystery”.
I love these images and their feeling of faked authenticity. Something like this could have been produced via photoshop, but only at the cost of much more work. I know these images are AI, and Sheridan is open about it, and there’s a hauntological feeling that comes from knowing that they are not real.
I found out about Sheridan through Ryan Broderick’s Garbage Day, where Ryan put forward his personal rule for AI art: “Is it trying to do something interesting and not hiding the fact it’s AI generated? Cool. Give it a whirl! See what happens. Is it a bad, automated replacement for human-made content? No thanks.”
Another AI project I keep thinking back to is 2022’s Summer Island comic by ‘Steve Coulson and Midjourney’. This uses the AI illustrations as the background for a story about folk horror and kaiju. The images here served the story and I enjoyed the writing. This one could have been produced using an illustrator, but the Coulson would likely not have been able to pay an illustrator to tell his story.
I’ve been inspired to begin playing with AI art, just to see what sort of thing I can produce. There’s an interesting aesthetic here, as can be seen with this image at the top of the page – which Stable Diffusion based upon a photo of me.
There’s something here worth playing with. Interestingly, my friend Dan prefers Stable Diffusion version 3 rather than 5, as the earlier version has a more interesting aesthetic.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list