Extreme Exploration of the Uncanny Valley

On the margins of the digital and the real, there exist many paths less traveled. These places are of course my preferred playground.

It is only recently that A.I. based tools for generating imagery from text have become widely available. Imagine then, my excitement and anticipation, when I discovered Craiyon. Not only is this generator free to use (at least for now) but perhaps most importantly for me, it does not currently apply filters or censors to the text that you use to guide image generation. This means I can use Craiyon to go places that few sane visual experimenters would think to go; diving headlong into the most unexplored nooks and crannies of the Uncanny Valley.

And I propose that the possibilities right now are tremendous. I imagine that we are somewhere near the peak, the zenith of the opportunity which will not last for very long, because it is inevitable that the image generation A.I.s will improve over time – they will become better and better at creating the kind of art that everyone agrees is indeed art, driven by an irresistible pressure towards commercialisation, and hence closer to the general consensus.

But for now, the tools are primitive. They make mistakes. They misunderstand. They are capable of getting it right if you ask in the correct way; however, they are also capable of getting it almost right, yet still horribly wrong. Perfect! With the right prompts, and by exploiting an intuitive “feel” for their foibles, their artistic and practical weaknesses and confusions, one can poke the tools of language into those veiled crevices and tease out the most astonishingly bizarre gothic nightmares. All my birthdays arriving at once!

This gallery is the output from my first few sessions collaborating with the Craiyon AI. I hope the images have succeeded in reflecting that specific nightmare of which everyone is aware, and (perhaps) fears most of all – a gradual slide into an hallucinatory, paranoid insanity. My objective was to create images in which everything we see is tantalisingly close to something we recognise, and yet as soon as we apply our mental focus to the scene, it’s components dissolve into a surrealist nightmare of chaos and madness.

I have not titled these images – I think that would be superfluous.

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