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‘Stardust’ an experiment in generative portraiture

Life is finite. Creativity isn’t. An artist has the potential to create infinite artworks but only some of them will see the light due to the constraint of time. What if we use technology to outsource the creation of art so more of these potential artworks are finally created? Modelling artistic decisions into software would provide a generative assistant that could even survive an artist in the creation of meaningful works of visual art. This project is a first experiment around this concept.

Some models of human creativity describe it as a process that produces novel combinations of pre-existing ideas or objects. We curate these combinations in our human minds. We abort potential creations. This experiment in generative portraiture will be the opposite: it will give birth to as many novel combinations as possible, taking the risks of non curated creation and experimenting with the use of generative strategies to create assisted works of art. It should also raise issues about the origin of value in art: meaning to the viewer eyes, originality, authorship, scarcity, idea generation and execution dexterity.

As a theme for this series of portraits, I’ve choosen the concept of nucleosynthesis or the process of creation of new atomic nuclei from pre-existing matter that takes place at cosmic scale. We humans, are believed to be novel combinations of cosmic stardust. It could be argued that the whole universe is the biggest running generative art installation today. Personal beliefs will determine who we think the artist is.

In a nutshell, this experiment, with the participation of an Internet audience, will produce as many artworks as possible (during a limited time, beginning 18th of June 2013). An automated process will create human portraits as generative collages, using as sources some images from the hubble space telescope. Generated portraits will be exhibited at the flickr Stardust Portrait exhibition.

Participation is free and everyone is invited:

Provide a photo of yourself and get three free generative portraits in digital form. The steps are:
1 – You upload a frontal face photo of yourself (in jpg format) to your Google Drive cloud storage. You just need a google account (gmail, google+,…). If you don’t have one, you can sign up for one. It’s free. (note: I am not promoting nor endorsing Google services here. It is just a convenient tool for this project). How to use Google Drive.
2 – Once uploaded to Drive, you share the photo with with “can edit” access level. Don’t send the photo or the share link by email! Just use the share function in Google Drive with that address. Don’t worry, only that photo is shared. All other documents will be private to you. How to share a photo in Google Drive.
3 – Wait. All photos will be reviewed and approved manually before entering the generative process to ensure they comply with the requirements of the project (see Q&A below).
4 – Hopefully in less than three days you will have three generative portraits written as new versions of your original photo. Check your Google Drive space. Your original photo will still be there as the first version. How to get access to file versions

And this is what happens when Joost Galjart is among the stars ;-)

Please, read the terms and conditions before participating, thank you!


‘Stardust’ an experiment in generative portraiture - TheWorldIsOn