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Machine Learning art: Dreaming of Home

I created a video-artwork called “Dreaming of Home” that won the Rijswijk Talent Award

To challenge myself, I participated in the Rijswijk Talent Award. As the subject of the challenge was “home”, I wanted to make a personal work – while at the same time not making it to concrete. I found the solution for that problem in machine learning.

Dreaming of Home #

My artwork is a video that shows my life in Rijswijk as a dream-sequence. Like a dream, you cannot clearly make out what you’re seeing: every time you think you recognize something, the image transforms into something else. The work is deeply personal (it’s made from photos of me, my family, my house), and yet general: everyone watching the video can recognize things from their own experience.

The work stays exciting, even if you look at it for a long time. As you can tell, I’m quite proud of it :)

Making of… #

The video was made using artificial intelligence. It felt (to me) as a collaboration between myself as artist and the algorithm (the second time I explore that theme this year).

I selected 250 photos of my life in Rijswijk, photos of my family, myself, our house, the cat, and prepared them for a machine-learning algorithm.

This training-set of photos was purposefully ‘bad’: for a good result, you’d need a lot more photos and the input needs to be ’normalized’. My photo-set by comparison was small and diverse. I knew the machine-learning algorithm would not be able to generate convincing life-like results… Which was the point! In dreams, you also don’t get a clear picture.

After training, I let the algorithm generate an image sequence which was the basis of the movie above. It took me many hours in video-editing to create the definitive look: color grading, adding a halo and adding several layers of blurred video.

Result #

I won the grand prize (500 euro!) out of over 80 submissions. The jury-report said it “transcended the moniker of amateur art”, and that “the video-art shows great talent and creative insight, it’s original, intelligent, attractive and it keeps intriguing”.

The artwork was on display in two pop-up expos and the Rijswijk Museum.