What impact is AI generated Art having on meme cultures?

What impacts are AI generated media having on art?
Goots comes to mind as a prominent meme that was supposedly AI generated, are there any others and are there any larger patterns?
Are there types of ideas or feelings that are better expressed by the distorted images sometimes generated by such algorithms? (the "name one thing in this photo" meme comes to mind)

Also, bit of a rant ig,

There is a tendency for old media (as in old mediums) to be used as templates for nostalgia purposes by simulating their distinguishing artifacts or imperfections as a way of symbolizing the time period the medium was most prominent during. Is AI generated art likely to become prominent enough for its own quirks to be used to signal a particular time period? For example, its tendency to be able to recognize and create textures better than recognizing and generating accurate shapes, in many cases. What other impacts is it likely to have?


AI generated art will replace a lot of "traditional" digital art by making much of the conventional workflow redundant and making "good enough" output cheaper than free. The fact that we're at the stage where people aren't asking whether it's possible for AI to approach the level of human artists, and are instead nitpicking about the things AI can't do yet, means that we're long past the point of no return.

Now, as for AI generated memes, there's a lot of cool stuff being done.

Bard Meme Lab's "This Wojak Does Not Exist" (2021) was a cool AI generated meme project. it made images like this one (there's a total of 1576 images preloaded on the site):

My favourite AI-generated meme project at the moment is "AI Generated Video Game Covers". It's a Facebook group and a memepage (they have a Twitter but don't post often), and the group members generate video game covers using mostly NeuralBlender. They've recently started doing "AI Remastered" series, in which members translate the AI-generated covers into hi-fi montages using stock images and other goofy Photoshop elements. The group has moved onto then making physical game packages using these AI Remasters.

Here's an example:

Example 2:

Of course, and that will be reflected in the models that are trained on nostalgic feedback. There's a famous Brian Eno quote that always comes up whenever we talk about this, from A Year with Swollen Appendices (1996):

Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit — all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It's the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.

JPEG artefacts in memes is a prime example of this. It's been called "shitpics" which I find an apt term, but people don't really use the word much any more.


Not really about visual art, but I want to introduce some text-based AI bots, namely News Bot 1926 (it's defunct now :confused: ) and Bots of New York The first one learn from users' interactions afaik, so its content should partially reflect the community's tastes and preferences at some point in time.

I'm not sure which specific quirks of AI generated content would really be its shining feature. In many ways, the excitement over their human-like qualities, especially in shitposting, could be of the simple "bot did thing/bot become sentient" and "bot made stuff so random its humorous" sentiments found in randomly generated contents. See The Bot Appreciation Society for these.

Perhaps when this technology improves, someone will play with human-indistinguishable troll accounts (that self-generate their stuff) for related purposes such as memetic engineering. A collision of deepfakes and r/SubSimulatorGPT2 on human-space, of sorts. Then it'll be a case of them dictating, rather than signalling, the times.


DALL-E has blown up the past few days with hilarious

AI art.


Interesting note that I may return to when I have time to think more, but wanted to document that this is the first DALL-E share I've seen where the generative text has been cut out, to great effect imo


I think a really neat example of bots generating meme cultures was the huge spillover from the World War Bot a few years ago, which every few hours would simulate a random country taking over another country until the entire planet was dominated. The bot had a few idiosyncrasies which developed into their own meme cultures--most notably the pro-Antarctica pages that sprung up that basically just roleplayed as the the 'Penguin Army' (I forget what they called themselves now).

I think the glitches people find in these automated systems are often what make them so memeable and memorable. In the case of the Antarctic annexation of the planet, there was a bug where countries that claimed Antarctica could invade any other country on the planet, regardless of adjacency. The meme pages surrounding the phenomenon wrote this into the lore, claiming that the penguins had portal technology.

Some other examples of bot/automation glitching that has produced memorable memes would be Nuclear Ghandi from the Civilisation series and All Terrain Vehicle defeating Lance's Dragonite in Twitch Plays Pokemon.


I feel like AI generated weirdness has overtaken the whole "cursed images" meme. Cursed images were interesting because it was incidental everyday life photos but with a Lynchian level of other worldliness that differentiate them from the norm. I actually attempted a 'cursed' photoshoot for press photos and although some were good it didn't have that magic a classic curse photo has.

AI has no context so its totally lack of understanding for normal and not normal allow freedom to explore these darker images. I feel like the human made cursed images are something totally dated now and in its place we only have AI generated horrors.


Yeah, this rocks.

I saw a post by Lev Manovich yesterday that I found interesting, primarily for the prompts he fed DALL-E mini (now Craiyon):

I have been playing with DALL-E mini - a neural network trained on 15 million image-text pairs. Because it is a smaller net than original DALL-E, so the images it generates don't have the same level of details. But they certainly demonstrate convincingly that AI image synthesis is a new art medium.

The trick is to come with the right phrase (referred to as "prompt") to use as network input. Most of such synthetic images we see in recent months fall follow particular pop aesthetics: game art - fantasy - character design - illustration. Often it is what you will see on deviantArt and Artstation platforms.

However, you can also get these nets to generate almost anything else, if you prompt them right. You can see the prompt I used in the screenshots. Its taking about 1-2 minutes to get each new image.

Over next few days, I will share more examples. The images in this post were generated using references to contemporary art. 2 use “artwork.” And 2 others use “installation,” which makes a differece. I added “Venice biennale” for fun, but I assume that such detail does not affect results (although I have not tested).

I was able to "get close" to these installations by adding "close-up" in the prompt. Using "mixed materials" and "in a museum" also works well. These are just a few examples from many more I made using these kinds of prompts, and they all look equally good. (Note: adding “trending on Artstation” makes a image sharper but in my experience does not influence its content - this is why I use sometimes this phrase as part of the prompt.)

For me the best part of using this new medium (or meta-medium, to be more precise - since it can use multiple existing art media) is that you don’t know what you going to get. This is similar to visualizing big culture data, another “new median” I have been exploring since 2009.

Because of the very large space of plausible possibilities for contemporary installations / sculptures appearance, such synthetic images in my view look more convincing and precise then synthetic images in the style of particular famous artists - which are much more constrained. I will explain this in more detail in the future chapter of our Artificial Aesthetics book. You can get PDFs of 4 chapters we released already here:


(from Lev Manovich's Facebook profile)

Genre categories are notoriously imprecise and divorced from the actual practice and understanding of the associated productions. Perhaps machine learning will help us come up with better alternatives to genres and subgenres in categorising art and music. "Energy", "vibes", "mood", and so on in memes are exactly this kind of thing already being explored by memers (and this is usually the default mode for artists).

Your point about human-made horror being superseded by AI-made horror is actually the most horrifying thought. It reminds me of how many plants and animals have evolved to be as frightening to predators as possible, through natural selection that favoured entities which were the least appealing to other species. Presumably, evolved horror had to be balanced with evolved aesthetics, since repelling all and every other organism is not a viable survival strategy. Horror for horror's sake is of course free from this sort of constraint; but maybe, as per your point, manmade horror is still limited by how much the human mind can tolerate dreaming up.

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Things like DALL-E will also allow for automatic generation of content through bot pages (imagine SPB5000 but with text templates generating images), and makes me wonder what the future of automatic content will be (thinking about those eerie semi-automated kids youtube Spiderman Elsa counting etc videos).

Even just humans uploading has made more content that can ever be fully experienced or comprehended, and as more content and posting become automated I think the parts of the internet that are 'unexplored' will only continue to grow.


Here's OpenAI's thoughts on the question:


There are a few different ways to answer this question. First, let's consider what AI generated art is. AI generated art is made by algorithms that mimic or interpret the creative process of human artists. This can be done through artificial neural networks that are trained on data sets of images, or by using algorithms that generate new images based on certain parameters.

So what impact is AI generated art having on meme cultures? One way to think about this is in terms of the proliferation of AI generated art. With more and more AI generated art being created, it's becoming easier for people to access and share this type of content. This means that AI generated memes are likely to become more prevalent in meme cultures.

Another way to think about the impact of AI generated art on meme cultures is in terms of the content of the memes themselves. As AI generated art becomes more sophisticated, the content of the memes is likely to become more complex as well. This could lead to memes that are more clever and expressive, which could be a good thing for meme cultures.

So overall, the impact of AI generated art on meme cultures is likely to be positive. The proliferation of AI generated art will make it easier for people to share this type of content, and the content itself is likely to become more sophisticated over time.


And here is its response:

The transcription:

"I think the impact of AI generated art on meme cultures is both positive and negative. On the positive side, it's great that there's more AI generated art available for people to enjoy and share. On the negative side, I worry that the content of some of these memes could become too complex or sophisticated for people to understand. I think it's important to strike a balance between the two."


Forgive low quality snap, but this artist used some AI renders of their previous paintings, as well as photos of their farm to generate inspiration for this painting


I agree with OpenAI - the effect is a positive one. I'm not sure AI ever completely, effectively trades out on the 'cultural' aspect of memes because it requires human input for what it outputs. Likewise, an autonomous AI meme-generator will require human understanding to remain relevant. Whatever it creates should have an aesthetic effect on us if it's going to continue to proliferate successfully. If nobody cares or feels anything, nobody will pay attention... as long as nobody is around the hear it, the AI tree that falls in the digital forest makes no sound.

You tell the AI to generate "911 gender reveal" and it creates the images. Those aren't images created in a vacuum, they are artifacts of meme culture/context being invested into AI. The human-specific, meaning-fixing aesthetic sensibility feeds into AI to co-generate memetic objects.

If anything, this strikes me as a kind of positive feedback loop between the human aesthetic sensibility and AI art generation. We give it what we want, it returns. It gives us what we want, we return. The creative exchange only stands to become more complex, interesting, and full as the relationship (and technical capability) develops.


Just going to not the original post seemed to focus more on memes about AI generated content, which the discussion turned to AI generated memes. While they certainly intersect and influence each other, there are distinct ideas. I think the main division in memes about AI are those who see AI as yet another tool, and those who see AI as a new sort of agent with potentially revolutionary power. I'm in the first group, but the fact the second group even exists is noteworthy. Anyway, there are different artifacts that can be seen with neural network generated images. Some examples include distortion in the form of colored spots, a general poor understanding of form, backgrounds that are more generic than the subjects, and incoherent text. I haven't seen anyone deliberately induce these aspects into memes as a signature yet though. I think right now we're at the point where the general public just isn't familiar with the current wave of AI generated content yet, so we're still in the shock-and-awe phase, but eventually it will end and this technology will look dated.