An artist has created ‘artificial intelligence’ images to bring Glasgow to life.
Photographer Siobhán Walker, from London, shared photos of working class people living in the city in the 1980s, capturing the imaginations of thousands of people online.
The 39-year-old has been experimenting with AI art since September and set out to recreate grainy, realistic photographs of fictional people and places.
The footage shows how weirdly sophisticated the technology has become – depicting sullen schoolchildren standing in front of a building, young clubbers beaming on the dance floor and an elderly woman gazing wistfully out of her window.
Siobhán told STV News: “Even though I didn’t grow up in Glasgow, I’ve been there several times over the last few years and it’s a place I really like.
“I also love the 1980s, so I wanted to create something from that era and judging by a few natives, I seem to have done it justice.
“The feedback is very positive and quite overwhelming, which I didn’t expect.”
One commenter said the photos were “amazing” and bore “striking resemblances” to the work of French photojournalist Raymond Depardon, who captured the city in the 1980s.
He added: “From what I remember and what I saw of Glasgow in the 1980s, they are very accurate.”
Another fan, Anton Gardinski, commented: “Amazing work, Siobhán. Several of these images are entirely plausible, and some would certainly make me think they were “the real deal” if they hadn’t been released as AI art. You really captured the Glasgow vibe.
Siobhán used an AI program called Midjourney on the Discord server. She typed prompts to describe what she wanted him to create in a process called “text to image”.
The machine learning algorithm – a so-called sentient digi-poacher named Fraud Monet – then creates images from user-fed text descriptions.
While very convincing at first glance, on closer inspection some of the details are a bit off – disproportionate eyes, a puffed style that’s a bit too high, or a toothy smile so wide it starts to overhang the face.
Another significant flaw in the system is the AI’s difficulty in rendering realistic hands, as seen in a photo of seven-fingered old men in a pub.
Siobhán said: “It’s weird, but he doesn’t seem to know how to count yet. Very occasionally, he will return five fingers.
“It’s still learning numbers and counting things like clocks, Roman numerals. Before, he couldn’t make his eyes properly, so it looks like he’s making his way into the human body. It is learned quickly. »
The internet has been swept up in a new viral craze for AI art that has seen thousands of people create stylized self-portraits by uploading selfies to easy-to-use apps including Lensa AI.
VisitScotland has even redesigned its locations on UNESCO Heritage Trails using AI-generated art.
This trend has challenged a number of ethical issues, including confidentiality, copyright and credit, as well as data bias.
Critics claim that the datasets are regularly trained on the work of unpaid artists.
Many programs’ privacy policies also grant companies the right to use and reproduce these images in perpetuity and royalty-free.
Siobhán said she understands the fears about AI and its impact on the future of art.
“There were people who said it was scary and they didn’t like where it was because it looked so realistic,” she said.
“You can recreate historical events that didn’t actually happen. It gets even better.
“I think some people are afraid of where AI can take us in the future and what that means for the past.
“I personally see it as a good thing, but I can understand people’s concerns about how it could possibly be used to create fake stories or things that have never happened in history.
“I put my friends there and it helped people. People are going through a lot of stress and hardship right now and it’s a form of escape; turn your thoughts and imagination into art.
She adds: “I see it as an additional tool for artists. It’s funny.”