Comments about technological history, system fractures, and human resilience from James R. Chiles, the author of Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology (HarperBusiness 2001; paperback 2002) and The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks, the Story of the Helicopter (Random House, 2007, paperback 2008)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

DeepDreaming with Ice Photography

Will be posting an infographic on the Sept. 11 Mecca supercrane disaster soon; meantime, on a lighter subject, here's a note on what I'm doing with my stock of macro-ice photos. 

As followers may know from
 my Interstellar fan poster, ice photos taken with a macro lens can have an uncanny aspect, suggesting something not quite of Earth. So when I heard about DreamCeption for IoS, that sounded like something I should check out. 

Sure enough: here's an example of patterns that Dreamception added to one of my ice photos, Fire Cave

That's at low-resolution. Here's a sample of what Dreamception can do at a higher resolution, from a small portion of the upper right of the image:

That's impressive for the consumer market. The processing load must be substantial, which is why it runs in the cloud on supercomputers. 

The app's based on earlier work at Google, originally set up so that its artificial-intelligence program, called DeepDream, could recognize elements of photos, say, distinguishing a dog from a doghouse. Turns out that DeepDream can work the other way, superimposing details onto photos in a search for patterns and meaning. Filters such as "afterlife" impose buildings, faces, and all kinds of crazy things on ice photos: 

Using the Dreamception app on an iPad is easy -- just upload an image from your Camera Roll folder, select a filter, hit submit, then save back to the Camera Roll. It's possible to process an image with one filter and then apply another filter to that result. 

After some experimenting, I think the most striking results come that way, from using the filters in series. For higher resolution you may have to break your image into pieces and recombine the Dreamception output with a graphics app, such as one of my faves, ProCreate

ProCreate's layer tool is also a good way to restore some of your original image, in places where Dreamception's patterns don't make sense. That's what I did for the center of Fire Cave