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Announcing the Cover Art Contest

I go deep on generative ai art. Funny to read this in hindsight.


I'm holding an AI art contest for the cover art for
Season 3 of Spacetime Diaries, titled Waking Up.

You have to make the art with an AI art generator like Midjourney

Winner gets $500,
all selected contestants get a stipend
and reimbursement for subscription fees.

Enter Here
Hello friends,

I started drafting this email from inside a microhotel in Gowanus, NYC, where I was quarantined for a few days with COVID-19. While that trip to New York didn't become the celebration of people and culture that I hoped it would be, it afforded me some time to reflect on recent events.

Father figures and death have been on my mind lately, but in those first few feverish days, hazy with covid fog, surrounded by white walls and the sound of 4th Ave, I noticed how I chose to spend my precious few cognitive resources -- either thinking about my partner Lauren and my animals Rufio and Maris, or about different aspects of Waking Up. Having the opportunity to chase obsessions is a real gift, and I'd like to thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

Ok, on to the announcement --
"a group of people wrecking an art gallery" by @SHOKMACHINE
Created using the AI art generator Midjourney

Waking Up AI Art Contest

Sept 7 - Oct 7
Winner announced Oct 20
Selected participants receive stipend and reimbursement
Winner receives $500

I need to introduce the project more formally in my next newsletter, but for now let's just say:

Waking Up, the third season of Spacetime Diaries, target December 2022, is about synthetic consciousness and the interplay of human and machine. As I was developing ideas for the sound design, naturally my late night googling veered into the subject of AI and art, and as the story developed I kept finding new ways to incorporate AI into the production of Waking Up. In future newsletters I'll describe how AI was used in the voiceover production, music composition, and sound design, but right now I want to announce an art contest that will kick off September 7th.

A handful of applicants will be selected to spend a month playing with a powerful, affordable, and universally accessible online AI art generator called Midjourney (and potentially DALL-E2 if more invites are distributed).
Midjourney gives you four options in approximately 60 seconds based on your text prompt. Here, you can see how it handled "god fall." You can select an image for Midjourney to iterate on (and develop four new images based on the selected). Posted to Midjourney Discord Aug 8 2022.

DALL-E, an earlier version of the technology that came out last year, got really buzzy with I definitely had fun seeing what silly pictures the machine would throw together based on the prompt. When I started playing with Midjourney, though, my eyebrows raised.

First off, you interact with the tool in a Discord server. If you don't know what Discord server is, think open Slack channel. So you can scroll through the conversation window and see everyone's prompts and the resultant Midjourney images. To me, this is a fascinating glimpse into the capacities of the tool, and what people all over the world want to see Midjourney create -- the subject matter, the style, the aesthetic, even how they phrase their prompt to direct the machine. You can follow and direct message your favorite artists, etc.

Secondly, you can type in things like "Impressionist" or "in the style of Gustav Klimt" -- and the kinds of descriptions the machine can understand gets better the more everyone uses it. You can imagine the implications to representation here. There are people active on the discord who focus their efforts in a specific subject domain, so Midjourney can practice creating, for example, human hands.
@Luna2022 spends time in specific subject areas to help Midjourney improve for everyone.

In many ways, this technology is very much in its infancy -- but growing quickly. I'm endlessly fascinated by it, its societal implications, its artistic merit, philosophical questions about art, and what the future may hold.

If you too are fascinated by this and want to spend a month collaborating on a cover art concept with me -- Enter here!

If you know anyone who might be interested in this -- forward this email to them please! Ages 10 - 110 welcome!

I'll select a small handful of contestants from the pool of applicants at the end of the month. Selected contestants get a stipend and their Midjourney costs reimbursed. I'll also give them loads of context and background on the story -- but no specific art direction. I can't wait to see how each artist interprets the story concept visually, and how their skills in manifesting that concept with Midjourney develop over the month. I wonder what they'll learn about using the technology -- what works, what doesn't work, and any reflections or insights they might have regarding its broader impact. 

Naturally I'll share all of that with you! Stay tuned!
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