Monday, September 14, 2015

Article: This algorithm can create a new Van Gogh or Picasso in just an hour

I was just thinking about this possibility last week...

This algorithm can create a new Van Gogh or Picasso
in just an hour

For great artists, creating a masterpiece is the culmination of a career. Years of practice, creative musings and experimentation with styles build up to the genesis of something truly original and timeless.
A story is often told about Pablo Picasso charging an enormous sum for a portrait. The physical act of drawing it took only a few moments, so the subject complained to Picasso. He is said to have responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”
While the great art of yesteryear was an exhaustive process to create, today the style of those masters can be mimicked in minutes. Last week German researchers released a paper detailing how a computer algorithm could be used to pump out images borrowing the styles of the world’s greatest artists.
The paper includes new images that look remarkably like the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch and Picasso. All the images were created in about an hour. As the researchers optimize their work, the images should be able to be produced even faster. Something that was rare and difficult could become quick and easy to create. (The researchers have not publicly released the algorithm yet.)
The findings are the latest out of the red-hot field of deep learning, in which computers identify and classify patterns in huge data sets. The computer’s thought processes are designed to mirror the way the human brain works.
The researchers create their new images by taking one image, such as a bland photo of a row of houses, and another image, a painting from a great artist. They then use what’s called a convolutional neural network to create a new image, in which the style of the great artist is applied to the other photo.
“The key finding of this paper is that the representations of content and style in the convolutional neural network are separable. That is, we can manipulate both representations independently to produce new, perceptually meaningful images,” write the authors. Their paper has been submitted to Nature Communications. Leon Gatys, a PhD student at the University of Tuebingen is its lead author.
This is another example of how machines are becoming more capable of matching and exceeding human capabilities. Of course, the machines don’t have a style all their own. They can only copy existing styles. True creativity is a greater challenge that machines have yet to master.
Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. I can get something that looks exactly like a Picasso; that would be a poster. I don't want a poster. Given enough resources I would purchase a Picasso. While there have always been forgers, there is an indescribable joy in having, owning, showing, gazing at the real thing. I can look at a real masterpiece and wonder how each stroke was made I cannot do that with a picture (not a painting). Perhaps that indeed will happen one day. I for one would be all the sadder.