Can an AI music video emulate the dreamlike wonder of a psychedelic trip? Take a look and see for yourself
Recently, a YouTuber going by the handle “DoodleChaos” posted an AI music video that’s received nearly three million views at the time of this writing, the likes of which I’d never seen before.
The video, I asked AI to make a Music Video…the results are trippy is what resulted from inputting a number of verbal prompts into a computer program titled Disco Diffusion V5.2 Turbo. The piece is meant to be a music video for the song “Canvas” by the artist Rezonate.
The piece unfolds as a first-person journey through an ever-evolving landscape of images created by the AI software, informed by the lyrics of the song. The video creator explains that at certain points throughout the composition, he offered some lyrical clarification to the computer, providing a series of more concrete reference points from which to derive meaning.
This idea is further clarified by a quote from the author himself. “While this AI is impressive, it still required additional input beyond just the song lyrics to achieve the music video I was looking for,” DoodleChaos explains. “For example, I added keyframes for camera motion throughout the generated world. These keyframes were manually synchronized to the beat by me. I also specified changes to the art style at different moments of the song. Since many of the lyrics are quite non-specific, even a human illustrator would have a hard time making visual representations. To make the lyrics more digestible by the AI, I sometimes modified the phrase to be more coherent, such as specifying a setting or atmosphere.”
It’s essentially an impressionistic piece. The impression of a computer, or perhaps more specifically, a form of intelligence that “lives” inside a computer.
Not being of a technological or scientific persuasion, I tend to exist in a world of whimsy and imagination as much as possible while still being able to afford gas, rent, and groceries. I couldn’t begin to fathom how human intelligence works, and yet there are those among us endeavoring to endow machines with what’s referred to as “artificial” intelligence. I can’t tell you how a toaster works, much less my email, much, much less, anything pertaining to “AI.”
But I can speak to my takeaway, mentally, spiritually, and viscerally from viewing the piece a few times now.
In a word? Unsettled.
I’m not someone who craves disillusionment. Disintegration is a term reserved for describing ruthless bounty hunter methods. Every day I wake up grateful that my corporeal body has miraculously, survived another night of powering down, becoming vulnerable to mosquitos, spiders, spirits and all else that roam the ethereal plane while we’re not paying waking attention. I crave the form of my jeans against my hips, the weight of the tea bag in boiling water, the sensation of less-boiling water running down my back in the shower. All of the tangible luxuries of the third dimension that I count on daily.
My experience of the trip the AI music video took me on, is that it left me unsettled. This, in spite of the fact that the color palate is in my wheelhouse, I’m always drawn to purples and pinks and tones associated with all things crepuscular. The tune itself is pleasant enough, though lyrically there is hint of fatalism percolating beneath, to my ear. And the reality that I believe is the piece was created in a spirit of play and wonder.
As the video progress, we smash through a series of rising and falling worlds, zooming in on an obscure detail and birthing an entirely new environment, through which we careen into the next obscure detail, blowing up into a new, brief moment and moving on. My poetic sensibility cannot help but feel a sort of sadness in this piece, a sense of disorienting fear, a recollection of the primordial mass before form.
Perhaps the piece is itself a metaphor for where we’re at with AI at this juncture. The process of becoming self-aware might be imagined as looking like the formation of bunches of moments in a context, a frame of reference informed by data points like lyrics, but nothing ever sticks, so there is a melancholy grasping. And I also then think, that it’s indicative of where we’re at popularly with consumer technology, in reference to our incessant social media scrolling. The video never stops to take in its environment, to immerse and appreciate anything. The moment is in our field of view, it immediately passes, and is gone. We are at the mercy of the program hurtling ceaselessly forward on a series of inputs.
Watch the video. You might just find it trippy.