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  • Writer's pictureChris

polaroids from the future: a provident history of the end of the world

This blog post is about my art series of the same title. CLICK HERE to go directly to the gallery.

Back in the early days of my journey into AI-assisted art, I was playing around with using the word "cyberpunk" in my text prompts, mostly because it seemed cool, and not because I actually knew what cyberpunk was. It turned out that Disco Diffusion, the image generation tool of choice at the time (mid-2022 or so), did appear to know what cyberpunk was, and so it gave me some interesting results.

Especially at this time, getting anything decent out of these tools was a real numbers game, and it involved lots and lots of experimentation. So, on a whim, I decided to combine the futuristic vibe of cyberpunk and the vintage feel of old Polaroid pictures. After some effort, I achieved this image:

Well, I thought this was just swell. Looking back on it now, the image is obviously very weird and incoherent, but it had a vibe that I loved. And even though the Polaroid frame itself was not perfect, it seemed pretty clear that it was meant to be a print of a photograph, at least.

The themes of cyberpunk, revolving as they do around dystopic futures, resonate strongly with me, especially these days. So the idea of a set of Polaroid pictures that look back upon a terrible future with a kind of nostalgia struck me as a great series to try to create. Unfortunately, the tools weren't ready for the job yet. After making about ten or so images I was relatively happy with, I put the project away for over a year because I wasn't able to create a cohesive collection of work that told the story I was trying to tell.

Once DALLE-3 and other apps became available, I decided to take another crack at the project. I started by remaking the few images I had made earlier since these were now unacceptably strange and incoherent given the availability of these more advanced tools. I was able to use many of these new applications, AI-based and not, along with extensive work in Photoshop, to create work that conformed to my vision. If I'm honest, I think I could wait another year or so to get even newer tools that would help me achieve my desired level of photo-realism instead of the more painterly or digital art feel that some of the images have. But, honestly, some of the images that purport to show the future are already coming to life today, so I thought it best not to wait any further!


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