Thursday, October 21, 2021

Autumn, Adnan . . . and Art?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with Prisma, a photo-editing mobile application (or app) that “uses neural networks and artificial intelligence to apply artistic effects to transform images.” I quite like some of the effects that can be created using this particular app.

Two recent subjects of my use of the Prisma filter Aqua have been the current season of autumn and my friend Adnan. They are both subjects that I find very photogenic, and so my photography of each of them is the basis of the Aqua-filtered images I share this evening.

I also share the following excerpt from Sam Levins’ 2016 Guardian article about Prisma and its ability to “turn photos into works of art.”

Prisma is reinventing the concept of filtering photos with technology. While the concept of adding filters to photos has been around for years, the Prisma iOS app is unique in the way that it relies on a “combination of neural networks and artificial intelligence” to remake the image.

What that means is the Prisma tools aren’t the kind of art filters that Instagram uses where the filters overlay the original photo. Instead, Prisma goes through different layers and recreates the photo from scratch, according to the app makers, who are based in Moscow.

“We do the image fresh,” Prisma co-founder Alexey Moiseenkov said in an interview Thursday. “It’s not similar to the Instagram filter where you just layer over. . . . We draw something like a real artist would.”

. . . Since Prisma has spread, some have complained that the app could devalue the work of real artists and take away work from painters who make art by hand – not within seconds on a smartphone. But for now, the app remains hugely popular, and Moiseenkov said he expects its user base to continue its rapid growth.

Moiseenkov’s background is computer science and he’s not an artist himself. But he said he grew up loving painting and that his favorite artist is Camille Pissarro, the Danish-French impressionist. “People want to create something, and we allow them to experiment,” he said.

– Sam Levins
Excerpted from “Prisma: The App That Turns
Photos Into Works of Art

The Guardian
July 14, 2016

I should note that at one point in his article, Levins contends that Prisma “lets users instantly transform mundane images into Picasso paintings,” the implication being that the app can transform bad photos into great works of art. I actually don’t agree with this. After all, a crappy photo is going to be a crappy “work of art.” Composition is key here, and that can’t be changed or corrected, no matter how much you make your photo look like a painting.

In commenting on my photography, people often tell me I “have a good eye,” which is really what composition is all about: seeing and composing the various objects within one’s chosen frame of vision thoughtfully and meaningfully; artistically, in other words. A good painter does this just as a good photographer does. Good composition should draw us in, make us wonder, make us see things differently and maybe even think about things differently. With such composition missing from any kind of visual art, the result will always be, to use Levins’ word, “mundane”

I invite you to spend time with my images of autumn and of Adnan, and to decide for yourself if they are works of art, mundane, or something in between. And I hope that you'll not only come to a decision about that, but that you'll also know why you came to the decision you did.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:

Autumn: Season of Transformation and Surrender
“Everything Is Saturated With the Sacred”
O Sacred Season of Autumn
“Thou Hast Thy Music Too”
Autumn – Within and Beyond (2018)
Autumn – Within and Beyond (2016)
Late Autumn Light
“This Autumn Land Is Dreaming”

Blue Yonder
November Musings
Adnan in Morning Light
Adnan . . . with Sunset Reflections and Jet Trail
Adnan . . . Amidst Mississippi Reflections
The Landscape Is a Mirror
In This In-Between Time

“I Caught a Glimpse of a God . . .”
The Prayer Tree
The Prayer Tree . . . Aflame!
Cosmic Connection
The Mysticism of Trees
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet

Related Off-site Links:
A New Popular App Called Prisma Has Insanely Cool Photo Filters That Make Instagram's Feel Boring – Danielle Muoio (Business Insider, July 8, 2016).
Prisma Uses AI to Turn Your Photos Into Graphic Novel Fodder Double Quick – Natasha Lomas (, June 24, 2016).
8 Photo Editing Apps That Should Be On Your Phone in 2021GQ India (October 10, 2021).

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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