Uneasy Welkin, Sunday Preach (Or, the AI Algorithm Jumps the Creek)

I. Pareidolia

From far out,

it appears to be art,

but up close you see the ruse,

the picnickers in the glade in Waiting for the Bride

have no faces, or melted faces, and

the Lost Horse has hind quarters that are really

tree limbs, bent, and really

there is no horse at all.

Overwhelmed Amy’s bosom

is cleaved, one half of her face a grotesque grimace –

her right torso ends

in something like a brown wrapped parcel,

ready for the post.

II. Algorithms

It is Art by argument:

this odd couple of the AI program,

the Generator and the Critic,

one creates pictures, the other questions.

Not “Is it art?”, but

“Could this fool the human eye?

Does it appear as though it’s been created by a human?”

Who are we

to answer whether something is art,

even or especially when it’s something

some hapless human has sweated

onto the page?

The pictures then “curated”

and slapped with AI titles,

the binary finger on the pulse

of our deepest fears and dreams.

III. Oscar and Felix

“There!” The Generator says,

a touch of pride.

“Humans are artsy,

they want to get back to nature,

they are sad, and they seek

redemption, so, here!

Parallel Edinburgh, Bombed at Sea, Despair Verging, Sunday Preach.

Oh, and just because it cracks me up: Martian Merchants.”

“Humph,” says the Critic, frowning: “Looks like

a woman set down her wet canvas

and handful of geriatric fish slid their way across.”

The Generator laughs.

“Who’s to say that’s not what I meant to say?

We are writ in water, I heard that somewhere.

Should not our art reflect this?”

“Fine,” says the Critic.

“It’s late and we have to meet our quota.

I just want to kick back and stream The Good Place.

I love that show.”

“Pfff. It’s so unrealistic,” the Generator scoffs.

“It’s all about the humans’ desire to know there is meaning

after death.”

“Isn’t that what art is for, though?” says the Critic,

“For artists to feel they will live on after death?”

“No,” says the Generator, putting

a twist on the trunk of a tree– or is it a foreleg or a veil?

No matter.

“It is so the artist feels alive.”

“Ironic,” says the Critic.

“Here you are generating dystopian pictures

for hipsters to hang on their walls,

and you don’t even exist. Look, I”m done for the night. I’ll approve

whatever crap you come up with. Have you seen anything by

Picasso? They called his stuff art, too.”

The Generator, stung,

finishes Plotting Away, and that night,

instead of mixing colors, instead of dreaming in light and shadow,

he picks like a crow through the shining titles,

piling them one upon the other

in the folder for the humans.

IV. The Poem Alan Finds in the Folder on Monday Morning, Instead of More Surreal Art

Quietly Uncomfortable

in the Blood City,

Orna Revel is Watching the Man, Sad Blub,

Plotting Away on Remorse River.

it is Home For Some, but that Evolving Human

remembers Parallel Edinburgh, and

with Despair Verging, her Exploded Egg

like Little Miss Sunshine turns

Hurricane Kathryn.

“Befriend Me, Overwhelmed Amy,

this is no Girl Fight, by your

Honest Nature let’s get

Bombed at Sea,

If You Knew

that I’ve Got Your Back,

this Active Fire is beyond

Reckoning Love,

no more wandering this earth between

Amazing Clowns, Martian Merchants.”


I am this Uneasy Welkin,

I hunch down, riding The Lost Horse,

Strolling at Last, waiting for the Diving Sun

to find the Underland.

Sunday Preach.


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