We're in the middle of a new artistic renaissance, one in which artificial-intelligence algorithms are helping artists develop new types of stories, images, and music.
WeatherAnomaly has just released a new video titled "Secret Society of Soul Painters" that uses a breed of AI known as an artificial neural network to create special, psychedelic effects. The results are stunning and reminiscent of masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch (of The Scream fame). But don't take it from me, take a look for yourself:
Artificial neural networks are being used by companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Baidu to identify the content of images. (If you use Google Photos, an app that automatically catalogs your photos, you're tapping into neural networks.) Some of these companies have open-sourced some of their technologies, making it possible for creative types to apply them to new areas, like art.
WeatherAnomaly used a program called Torch, first developed in part by Ronan Collobert, an engineer who now works at Facebook, and an algorithm described in a recent paper aptly titled "A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style" to create Secret Society of Soul Painters.
The way the technology works is simple. The neural network "learns" the style of one image and merges it with another. That mashup can give you some pretty epic results:
It still takes some computing know-how to get these programs to do what you want them to. But because they're now more widely available in pre-packaged form on online repositories like GitHub—and not just locked away in tech companies' algorithmic vaults—it's allowing DIY AI tinkerers to create new kinds of art that didn't exist before. Some of that work is jumping into the mainstream. The band Years&Years will feature AI-generated graphics in one of its music videos.
In case you're afraid that artistic AIs are going to put human artists out of work, keep calm and carry on. All of these projects still have humans at the helm.
Daniela Hernandez is a senior writer at Fusion. She likes science, robots, pugs, and coffee.