Tuesday, 27 July 2021

eight of swords

Via Super Punch, we discover a text-to-image generative experiment that applies some 1970s sci-fi paperback covers filters to the classic Rider-Waite-Smith iconography to dream up a tarot deck hybrid. We especially liked this Seven of Pentacles card that seems inspired by the novel and film Silent Running.

Saturday, 24 July 2021


yรคchtley crรซw: a cover band’s homage to the genre (previously

sky mall: the inevitable fate of all platforms, selling botware to other bots in glossy format—via Things Magazine plus an update on the Metabolist capsule hotel of Kisho Kurokawa 

๐’€ญ๐’„‘๐’‰‹๐’‚ต๐’ˆจ๐’Œ‹๐’Œ‹๐’Œ‹: assaying the Epic of Gilgamesh—previously here and here  

this beach does not exist: using generative adversarial networks (previous snowclones) to create fantasy shorelines—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

hearse: a concept Airstream funeral coach, circa 1981, which never caught on—also h/t to Things  

not affiliated with project shield, loki or the world security council: an exclusive exposรฉ on cyber surveillance abuse on a global scale 

 transatlanticism: US withdraws objections to completion of Nord Stream 2—previously, now ninety-eight percent done—after negotiations with Germany 

 murphy’s law: an abcedarium of the maxims of management—see also

Wednesday, 30 June 2021


billboards and hoardings: the evolution of outdoor advertising  

ptychography: a high resolution imaging of atoms—see previously  

the village: lovely Mid-Century Modern accommodations in Portmeirion—where The Prisoner was filmed  

vqgan+clip: Picasso’s Persistence of Memory with Lisa Frank filter applied—via Waxy  

ems: composer and sampling pioneer Peter Zinovieff has passed away, aged eight-eight—via Things Magazine  

pulp tarot: a divining deck (previously) informed by Mid-Century illustrations from Todd Alcott

siss-boom-bah: a Japanese pyrotechnics catalogue (see also) from the 1880s  

indexing: a look at how the adoption of vertical filing helped ushering the Information Age—see also here and here

Sunday, 27 June 2021


into the bantaverse: a bot ghost-writes a Star Wars story—see also  

green guerrillas: the role that radical gardeners play in fostering community out of urban blight  

earth, wind and fire: combine basic elements and create new substancesas an alchemist—via Waxy  

fourth world: celebrating the life and career of trumpeter and electronic music pioneer Jon Hassell (*1937)

in frame: see the untrimmed, original version of Rembrandt’s Night Watch (previously) thanks to the help of a curating algorithm   

homo longi: recently discovered ‘dragon man’ skull may be a transitional species from Neanderthal to modern humans  

ine bay: hidden, historic boathouses (ไผŠๆ นใฎ่ˆŸๅฑ‹, funaya) in Kyoto—via Nag on the Lake’s always excellent Sunday Links 

the skeleton crew: our friendly artificial intelligencer (previously) trains a neural network to write a horror story

Wednesday, 16 June 2021


Courtesy of our friendly artificial intelligencer (previously), not only are we reminded that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, pronounced Noah like the biblical figure) assigns names to hurricanes years in advance, we also glean some insight as to how a neural network might interpret this list with non-international phonetic alphabet guide to enunciation. Some delightfully mispronunciations ensued, especially when assigned storm seasons further in the future. 

Following the protocol, by 2051:
Harry HARR-held
George jar-ZHAY

By 2070:
Wanda way-DAHN-uh
Jason JAY-dree
Scott wess-tra 

And by the next year:
Georgia zheh-DRO-luh
Nelson NEH-suh-lihn
Victor VIK-suht 

We too would need these names spelt out for us the first time in order to say them right and with the . Much more to explore from AI Weirdness at the link up top.

Monday, 14 June 2021


dit-dot: via Web Curios (a lot more to see at this latest instalment), we’re invited to learn the basics of Morse code (previously) with this well designed, gamifying tutorial 

passeggiando: be a virtual flรขneur in these composite Italian cities 

broadcast energy transmitter: delivering renewable energy from where it is plentiful to where it’s need via submarine transnational supergrids 

flock together: a TED Ed presentation on the evolution of feathers  

pyramid power: Duns Scotus and the esoteric history of the dunce cap—via Boing Boing  

essential reading: The Atlantic’s Ed Yong won a Pulitzer Prize for his COVID reporting  

รครค: a collection of essays from the Times Literary Supplement on defence of endangered, indigenous languages

Tuesday, 8 June 2021


scream real loud: The 1954 “Pinky Lee Show” that prefigures in a way Pee-Wee’s Playhouse 

7/10: promoting health for the high seas on World Oceans Day—previously  

avian aftershave: crows treat themselves to ant baths  

squirrels under the hood: an AI researchers illustrates how algorithms are dangerously regressive reflections of the worst of us (previously) and are far from artificial or intelligent  

###: a short from Optical Arts repeats a range of actions with different objects in the key of A  

that’s my name—don’t wear it out: do yourself a favour and check out the blog of Pee-Wee Herman

Saturday, 15 May 2021

well actually

We quite enjoyed this choice selection of bot ‘splaining from our Artificial Intelligencer Janelle Shane (previously) where after given a prompt, a neural network with hilarious inaccuracy in a supremely confident (see also) fashion that rather skilful captured the tone that we’d attribute to rampant pedantry. Our favourite examples included: Not everyone realises that the J.C. Penney department store chain is named after a giant cat that Isis used to summon from a nearby lake at the end of every work day; and You may not know it, but the pixels you see on this website are, technically, conscious, which doesn’t make this paragraph that much better.  More to explore at the links above.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

jpeg image, 512x512 pixels

Via Boing Boing, we are afforded a very exclusive peek in a very elite gallery with a inimitable exhibition which you and you (most likely) alone get to experience with This Art Work Does Not Exist—see previously here, here, here and here—created spontaneously through an artificial intelligence using a generative adversarial network. Refresh the screen to get another one-of-a-kind—quite unique but in a different way than a non-fungible token—piece of art, once again begging the question what it means to copy, up-sample, create and own the creative process.

Thursday, 29 April 2021


Via Things Magazine, we learn that phantom islands and trap streets may be making a resurgence in an awful and insurmountable way with deepfake satellite imagery, with making a Potemkin neighbourhood be it for misrouting traffic, boosting property value, lowering tax liability or for disguising a nuclear refinement plant or concentration camp an easier task that creating a passably convincing human—not to mention undermining useful demographics and economic trends that can be gleaned by such monitoring as well as engendering distrust in what previously was accepted as irrefutable evidence. Artificial intelligence and generative adversarial networks are able to create virtual empires and dystopias to dupe us all.

Friday, 9 April 2021

smells like nirvana

Via The Morning News, we are directed to the Lost Tapes of the 27 Club, an AI-driven homage to the cadre of talent bereft of this world far, far too soon by imagining, synthesising the continued, posthumous hits of musicians who departed prematurely at that age including Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain, resurrected by machine on new technology.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

you look like a thing and I love you

Resident artificial intelligencer Janelle Shane (previously) early on trained a neural network to generate pick-up lines with the titular gem shining through a mostly confused and incoherent jumble of words and called her book after it. Since then, machines have become more literate and sophisticated cads and can slather on some pretty good introductory ice-breakers.

I love you. I don’t care if you’re a doggo in a trenchcoat.
I will briefly summarise the plot of Back to the Future II for you.
Can I see your parts list?

Cool your jets Babbage, Ada—things are moving a bit quickly. Check out the whole list at the link up top and learn more about the programming and protocols of machine learning.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

The visual search engine Same Energy has been circulating for a few days and while we found it to be a clever idea and there was definitely correspondence among images by a word prompt it seemed a little predictable. Uploading a picture, however, like I did with this art work from Tadami Yamada Japanese surrealist in this 1983 composition that features elements of a still life, chequerboard and a strange framed tarot motif in the background and taking in a mosaic of what the algorithm makes of the visual cue really is engaging and demonstrates a virtuosity that we weren’t expecting. Do give it a try and see what it serves up. 


Wednesday, 3 March 2021


spongmonkey: though not a cultural shibboleth for myself personally, this history of the Quiznos’ submarine sandwich franchise’s mascot was an interesting object lesson in internet culture—via Miss Cellania  

backmasking: fun with that portrait animation application, via Super Punch  

puce chintz alert: a truly cursed McMansion built in 1978  

micro-face: a fascinating, multistage look at the process of acquiring a super hero with the Planet Money podcast  

garage mahal: vlogger pays house-calls to the ostentatiously wealthy, asks what they do for a living

previous tenants: buildings that used to be a Blockbuster video rental shop—in the tradition of This Used to be a Pizza Hut—via Things Magazine

Friday, 26 February 2021


In a pioneering paper outlining the principals of neural networks and parallel processing, Oliver Selfridge (*1926 – †2008), a founding proponent of artificial intelligence and called the Father of Machine Perception, proposed in 1959 an architecture of distributed demons that underpins our ideas about machine learning and adversarial behaviour. The model was realised in a 1977 psychology textbook illustrated by Leanne Hinton as a flow chart for both biological and computerised analogues. Learn more at Mind Hacks at the link above.

Friday, 19 February 2021


seven minutes of terror: Perseverance lands on Mars, beginning its search for signs of past life  

cyborg tomato: AI Weirdness (previously) generates its own mascot—plus others  

polar flare: examining every map projection and how it distorts our world view at once—see previously  

simon says: a vast archives of electronic handheld and table-top games and consiles from decades past—via Swiss Miss  

fabian society: capitalism coexists with constructivism in Czech city of Zlรญn  

hello world: the newest Martian probe beams back its first images

Friday, 29 January 2021


testi stampati: the riotous typographical illustratrations of Lorenzo Petrantoni  

painterly realism: Nathan Shipley trained a neural network to turn portraiture into convincingly true-to-life photographs 

civilian climate corps: a vision of how putting people to work on conservation projects can help save both the environment and the economy  

narratology: a purportedly exhaustive list of dramatic situations—see also here and here  

stonx: a long thread explaining the GameStop short-squeeze—via Miss Cellania  

paradoxical undressing: National Geographic forwards a new theory to account for the Dyatlov Pass Incident (previously) of 1959  

butler in a box: before digital assistants there was domestic aid in the late 1980s 

will success spoil rock hunter: Art of the Title looks at the opening montage of the 1957 CinemaScope classic

Wednesday, 20 January 2021


flotus: the story and legacy of the wooden Melania Trump sculpture in Slovenia 

lightening never strikes twice: a meteorologist debunks some weather myths 

we shall come rejoicing: digging out the sheep—rescued after a heavy snowfall  

photobomb: animals interrupting wildlife photographers 

draw a tattoo of a mailbox: in a reversal of sorts, compete with other human sketch artist to prove to an AI who is the most accomplished—via Waxy 

conspiracist ideation: what to do about QAnon

Thursday, 7 January 2021


Via Waxy, we make the acquaintance of a namesake (a portmanteau of the Pixar character and Salvador Dalรญ) neural network that generates, using Open AI, images from captions. It’s still too brittle, its minders say, for free-text (see also) but one can play Mad-Libs with a certain string of prompts to get an idea of its virtuosity and capabilities. 

This first array of images is in response to the cutline a triangular, yellow manhole cover. The second, poetically, is a fox—made of voxels—sitting in a field. The network even demonstrates learning in geographical facts, fashion and dating styles and technology, though some seem better informed than others. 



Monday, 28 December 2020

small town snow globe refillery

Usually one to eschew all things to do with the holiday once it is over (with some allowances for Three Kings Day) until next time, this strange Winterval when the days blur in normal times, we did rather enjoy indulging this thread and storyboard for the typical Hallmark channel—courtesy of Super Punch—as reinterpreted by an artificial intelligence made to sample all the family-friendly permutations, banging out a formula that really resonates and captures an aspect of Christmas magic. It’s just the frame, the elevator pitch but I am sure that we could expound on the premise and make The Christmas on Christmas happen. “Yet still my twins are dad-free. They need double-dad.”