Google’s latest AI art project turns selfies into a ‘poem portrait’

Poem portrait (i2tutorials)

 

Google’s projects with the help of AI are always innovative and exiting and its latest is characteristically odd. A web APP called “PoemPortraits” is the online collective artwork combination of poetry, design and Machine Learning (ML).

It is your self-portrait overlaid with a unique poem, created by AI. You can create your own and contribute to the evolving, collective poem, where it takes a word of your suggestion and combines it with a selfie to create the eponymous poem portrait and is an Instagram filter paired with a few lines of AI-generated poetry.

“PoemPortraits” is worth for a few minutes of your time to mess around with. It is a is the fruit of a longer collaboration between Google’s Arts & Culture Lab

 

What is poem portrait?

It is your self portrait overlaid with a unique poem, created by AI, you can create your own and contribute to the evolving, collective poem. Each word you donate will be expanded into original lines of poetry by an algorithm that’s trained on millions of words of nineteenth century poetry.

This APP is created by coder Ross Goodwin, and Es Devlin, an artist and renowned stage designer who’s worked with everyone from the UK’s National Theatre to Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Adele.

Ross Goodwin built the software that generates the poetry. He trained a deep learning neural network on a huge corpus of 19th century poems (over 25 million words!), which looks for patterns in this data and then generates text in response to the user’s input.

Devlin has put little poem-making machine into a number of physical frameworks and he writes in the blog post, the poem produces “surprisingly poignant, and at other times nonsensical.

It’s been said by Google that it’s a bit like predictive text: it doesn’t copy or rework existing phrases but uses its training material to build a complex statistical model. Accordingly, the algorithm generates original phrases emulating the style of what it’s been trained on.

It’s quite addictive, really. After each AI-generated poem, I dive back in with another word—”tulip,” “media,” “technology,” “equality,” “ampersand.” I’m not sure if I’m making the collective poem better or worse, but I can’t seem to stop.