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The Mutations Project

The initial phase of my Mutations is nearing its end and I have decided, once this stage is complete, to move my project in a specific conceptual direction for its next iteration. The next group of my work will continue to use the Deep Dream Generator, but will be based in the study of seeds that have been cultivated for the benefit of human consumption.

Before making this shift, however, I plan to finish painting my Mutations and will document them as a ‘case study’ that I can reference and use as material for future projects. This will likely take me one to two months to finish, but over the course of the next few weeks I intend to continue painting my Mutations in addition to processing my observations of the Deep Dream Generator and its influence on my studio practice.

One aspect of my work that I am looking to change, going forward, is the scale of my paintings. Consequently, I will be painting several of my Mutations at a larger scale to get a sense of how they will function in proportion to the body. The images shown below are the digital versions of two Mutations that I intend to paint at a larger scale during the next several weeks.

I believe that these compositions already lend themselves to a larger size and will allow me to work relatively quickly. I have primed both canvases and have already begun to work on the painting of the image to the left. While there is still a lot of work to be done, I do think that it is possible to make substantial progress on these paintings before the end of the summer session.

Once the entirety of this phase is complete, I will have twenty paintings and a statement detailing the process and my observations. Ideally I would like to document these paintings installed in a space together, but given the limitations of the lock-down this may be difficult to do any time soon.

Thinking more in depth about the project as a whole, my Mutations have provided me with the opportunity to get a sense of this process and its potential. I have become more familiar with the workings of the Deep Dream Generator, its limitations and its benefits. Using this pre-made neural network has allowed me to focus on the structure of this project first, before diving into the complexities of customizing my own software.

I hope to eventually modify a system that will be able to generate ‘original’ pieces, beyond simply processed ones. The system will be trained with my paintings along with imagery relating to the conceptual subject of the project. Ideally, the images that it produces will simulate my style and artistic sensibilities. As I produce my own paintings, I will feed that information into the neural network and it will continue to learn and develop in relation to me. Once I establish this automaton alter ego, I will introduce it to social media and compare viewer responses to its work with responses to my own paintings.

While I continue to develop this long-term project and until I have reached a barrier or feel that my work has become stagnant, I plan to continue working with Deep Dream as a collaborator that expands my practice and provides context for questions regarding the ethics of AI and its accessibility for artists. Ultimately, this process is recursive and will continue to expand its iterations until it finds a limit. Unlike recursion, I cannot set a base case. But I believe there will be a point where an end is naturally reached and I am eager to discover what form it will possess.

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