Back in November I asked, cheekily: “Who said AI is not creative?”. That was when I first encountered DALL-E and got it to paint pictures of Koschka in various artistic styles. Needless to say, everyone out there is now doing it, some for fun, some for commercial purposes.
Just two days ago I read in an article on Artnet that they tested DALL-E by asking it to “Imagine What’s Just Beyond the Frame of 10 World Famous Works of Art”. This new “expansive” form of art is called “Outpainting”. It refers to coaxing AI into enlargening original paintings beyond their artist-given boundaries by adding more landscape, more interior, additional figures…, in the style of the original painting, of course.
I must admit to finding this fascinating, and for those of you who are curious to see what the newly created Guernica, Van Gogh’s Night Café, or Munch’s The Scream look like, here is the link:
And if you think outpainting is an idle way of entertainment for a rainy New Year’s day when you want a break from watching Netflix, let me tell you that out there, in the commercial world, creative agencies like Ogilvy have already sniffed out the commercial value that DALL-E can be put to. Their creative team used the new outpainting feature to compose a version of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid for an advertisement commissioned by Nestlé, the Swiss Good Food – Good Life giant, for an advertising campaign promoting their yoghurts.
The dimensions of the newly created vista are at least 5 times larger than the Dutch painter imagined it. The intimate, private scene has been turned into more of a public event, with quite a different mise-en-scene. No longer is the maid contentedly toiling by herself, preparing her masters’ breakfast in the pantry, with only a small window letting in some light, in her own little realm. Instead, the scene has expanded to include 4 ladies in waiting on the left, a rather miserable guy with a brown jumper and dark hat leaning over the window sill, a small boy furtively peering out from behind the cloth covering the pantry table, while on the right a nobleman in a velvety blue coat and a beret is seated in his chair, hands idle, presumably waiting for his breakfast, with two other seated companions looking on. In the background there is a kind of antechamber with more folk gathered. DALL-E has also added a variety of objects, pots and pans, and a grandfather clock standing tall (a spiritually charged symbol of impermanence or mortality, perhaps? The ways of AI are impenetrable).
Ogilvy’s Executive Creative Director, Social & Digital, in Paris says: “With this extended Laitière, we are at the very beginning of a revolution for our creative industry … and we should embrace it. … Illustrators will be able to sketch roughs more quickly. Photographers or art directors will create mood boards more easily. We see AI as an amplifier of creativity. It democratizes the process.”
Not sure I agree with his choice of verb here. Rather than “democratize”, surely the word ought to be “banalize”? In the sense of removing originality, making it more predictable, pedestrian, and clichéd? Less meaningful, less moving, less original.