What if a Star is Born was a futuristic sci-fi flick? What if He’s Just Not That Into You was a dark, art house horror film? And what if the main character of Transformers was just a really sad truck? Well, you’ve no need to imagine anymore, because Robomojo has you sorted. Using the open AI system Dall-E-2, Robomojo – a project devised by Melbourne-based new media artist simply known as Vincenzi – investigates how AI may decipher humanity’s cultural touchstones through one of society’s most treasured visual ephemera: film posters.
It was after gaining early access to the recently devised AI system that Vincenzi began spending a few months letting loose and experimenting with thousands of images and prompts. Soon followed his exploration of film posters, instigated by his desire to “know how the cold mind of a computer would process these works”, he explains. Firstly, Vincenzi begins by simply putting in a minimal prompt into the search bar, like the film’s title. And then, if the result is too abstract, he then slowly begins inserting the film's premise, leaning into the most “engaging and unexpected” results. Using entirely AI generated imagery, Vincezni then uses his background in graphic design to refine the poster and add text – which is currently out of AI’s capabilities. And the results are… interesting.
Perhaps the most hilarious insight we gain from Robomojo’s renditions is a much more literal perspective on well-known film names and plots. For example, Vincenzi sees the final poster for Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks' rom com Splash as being a much more honest depiction of a mermaid existing in New York. The slightly perturbing poster shows one of the mythical sea creatures from behind, stranded on a deserted subway. Vincenzi also loves the absurdity of the Sleepless in Seattle poster, which shows an alien-like creature overlooking the Seattle Space Needle. “The original film was sweet but this version, perhaps more accurately, portrays a sleepless anxiety associated with modern day dating,” Vincenzi laughs. Personally, we can’t get enough of the The Smurfs in 3D poster – a strange symbiosis of the classic Smurf colour palette with all the drama and humanity of the Blues Brothers duo.
Reflecting on the project, and what it suggests about the creativity industry, Vincenzi says that “it seems humans and machines are not yet in sync with one another, which is to be expected at this early stage”. Still only in the realm of generating work that is often “dehumanising” and straight out of the Uncanny Valley, Vincezni sees us as being in an important period, one where “we’re having to reflect on the meaning and value of art, particularly if humanity is slowly removed from the equation”. Is this a lighthearted foray into the possible merging of new technologies and culture, or an unsettling prophecy of a more unpredictable, automated creative future? Only time will tell.
Robomojo: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Copyright © Robomojo, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.