Art, Architecture, and Graphic Design – What happens when graffiti marks affect the architecture of the buildings they once adorned? For the When life imitates art project Marcus Byrne ventured into the world of Artificial Intelligence to create eerie abandoned buildings recalling the spray-painted marks left by graffiti artists. We asked him how the AI revolution could affect the future of art, design, and the creative business at large.
Details of decay, faded colouring, and creeping vegetation take over the warped facades and interiors, adding a touch of unsettling realness to the digitally simulated architecture. “Street artists shape culture and give meaning to the cities they express themselves in.” Said Byrne to Archipanic. “Seeing beauty in the decay, abandoned buildings filled with creative ideas are the heart and soul of what our society is built on. Desolate areas are turned into spaces, a sense of tribal empowerment.”
When life imitates art also celebrated the spray as an empowering and available-to-everybody tool for creative expression. Graffiti artists’ ideas are created publicly and feed into the collective consciousness of the social fabric of society. “These tribes are of utmost importance and usually go against social norms. Graffiti is an expression of identity, a democratic outlet for creativity, social connection, and achievement. There’s a weird juxtaposition, from being publicly admired as “street art” to criminal charges, fines, and jail time.”
Byrne digitally crafted the hyper-realistic architectures with Artificial Intelligence. “It was mind-bending, to be honest. I had a play, then got weirded out by the power of it and had to stop. I was thinking about the implications for artists and image creators in general. The speed of creation and the quality of the visuals are astounding.”
Eventually, he had to make peace with Artificial Intelligence, and he went back for more. He used Midjourney, an advanced software that uses a machine learning algorithm trained on a huge amount of image data to produce unique images. It works through the Discord App. You just have to type short text descriptions, and the AI generates an image. The text prompts render very different results depending on the words inputted.
“I created a series of images I had in mind for this project. It took between 70 to 100 image renders before I landed in a space I was happy with. By tweaking the words, the images got closer to what I had imagined. I used Photoshop to clean bits up and do some depth of field blurs and subtle grading.”
Will AI substitute graphic designers? “I’d like to think not. But in the long term… Probably… maybe… eventually… sadly. But I reckon there’s plenty of room for us to co-exist for now.” Marcus Byrne told Archipanic.
“In the mid-1800, when cameras were invented and became easy to use, portrait painters were terrified. Lord of the Manor portraits could be photographed in quick succession, their features captured with precision to display over their enormous fireplaces. Photography democratized art by making it more accessible and cheaper. Portrait artists switched to Impressionism. A new era began. I feel we are at a similar time with AI and the creative industry. Who knows where it will lead to. And it’s early.”
All images by Marcus Byrne.