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Step 83: {AI}ice’s Odyssey in DALL-E Land

Ryder Richards talks about his small art exhibition based on Salvador Dali’s (1969) illustrations of “Alice in Wonderland.” Considering them un-Dali, he asks DALL-E to draw inspiration from John Tenniel, the original illustrator, and re-invent them as a Dali-esque blend.

Ryder used ChatGPT, NotebookLM, and Claude to rewrite “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” extending the process into more than illustration, using Dali’s surreal symbology as Freudian dream analysis to replace the original setting and characters. The resultant illustrations offer a re-envisioned tale. During the talk, Richards shares his struggles with the image generation process.

  • 0:00 AI-generated art and its applications.
  • 2:36 AI’s potential impact on society.
  • 7:55 Cybernetics, control systems, and the future of humanity.
  • 13:11 AI-generated art and its impact on human creativity.
  • 17:36 Art, AI, and creativity.
  • 20:03 Using AI for art generation and creativity.
  • 26:43 Using AI for art generation and consistency.
  • 31:40 AI art, creativity, and ownership.
  • 36:29 Using AI to generate art, limitations and creative choices.

The Query 

In conjunction with West Texas A&M exhibiting the original 1969 Salvador Dali illustrations for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” Ryder Richards works with AI by asking 

“What would DALL-E do?”

Embarking on a journey akin to tumbling down the rabbit hole, I delved into the whimsical depths of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” extracting and recompiling through the lens of modern AI. This exploration, guided by the uncanny insights of Large Language Models, was a re-imagining—transmuting Carroll’s symbolic universe with the surreal vocabulary of Salvador Dali. The venture birthed “{AI}lice’s Odyssey in DALL-E Land,” a narrative realm where Freudian psychoanalysis dances with Carrollian absurdity, folding layers of insight and folly into the interplay of text and illustration.

To visualize this surreal amalgamation, a simplistic query was posed: What would AI, informed by Dali’s dreamscapes, envision if tasked to draw from Tenniel’s original illustrations? The outcome evolved to be neither Carroll, Dali, nor Tenniel, but a phantasmagoric pastiche, a hallucinatory realm where logic bends and reality resembles a mad tea party. Navigating this dreamscape demanded a leap through the looking glass, where consistency in inconsistency was the only guide.

The Process 

  1. Commencing with ChatGPT, prompts were crafted to conjure images blending the surrealism of Dali with the originality of Tenniel’s art. The goal was not just a visual synthesis but a doorway to a more expected result, as Dali’s actual illustrations are unexpected.
  2. The conundrum deepened upon iteratively introducing these prompts to Midjourney, where the AI’s interpretation added layers to the visual odyssey. Each iteration, a step further into reflection of our collective dreaming, offering results more Dali-esque than Dali. 
  3. The narrative then demanded a shift, a turn towards Dali’s psychology. Here, Carroll’s characters, mapped and transformed under the lens of dream logic, ventured from lush forests to barren, time-twisted beaches—a narrative reshaping to mirror the altered visuals. 
  4. The process evolved into a dialogue with the AI, a question of authorship and authenticity. How many iterations before the text or imagery became purely a reflection of my vision? Or would the AI, in its recursive dreaming, unveil vistas beyond my imagining?
  5. Alas, repetition led to a diminishing of the wonder, a settling into familiar patterns. The tea party, once mad with possibility, became a tableau, predictable in its eccentricity.
  6. Mastery over the process was sought, aiming for a harmonious blend where Alice remained recognizable amidst the flux, maintaining a thread of continuity within the surreal tapestry woven.


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