⟨ Art ⟩

Making Moments

Victor Wong and AI Gemini

Words / Elva Pang
Photogrpahy / Kimio Ng
Translation / Fanny Chan

現代的生活總是離不開科技,我們創造科技,也依賴科技,同時努力地平衡自然與科技的生活。對於跨媒體創作人Victor(黃宏達)來說,因為家人是從事紙紮舖、受道教影響的關係,他自小便相信順應自然的道理;可是他也相信人類不斷地追求創新也是自然的事,科技發展是自然的一部分。因此,他創造的人工智能水墨藝術家AI Gemini也是順應自然而生。

初次認識中國的桂林山水,就是在水墨畫之中。時而柔美淡雅、朦朧寫意,時而群山雄壯、氣勢磅礡。親眼看過後,才發現世上真的有這樣的風景,古人只是把眼前所見的寫下來。在似與不似之間,感覺到山水之間的神韻,好像能與素不相識的古人相連。AI Gemini的作品就能體現這種奇妙的連結,由首個科技山水的系列《逸》、讓人驚艷的《月球背面》系列,到最新的作品《The Fauvist Dream of Gemini No.3》,AI Gemini不但打開了全新的藝術之門,也擴闊了我們對水墨的想像。

O:Obscura 
V:Victor Wong

O:可以分享與Lane Crawford和Samsung合作的作品嗎?

V:受到Lane Crawford和Samsung的邀請,AI Gemini最新創作的《The Fauvist Dream of Gemini No.3》不再限於畫框之內,還可以放在電視機裡供人觀賞。在不看電視的時候,畫面會轉變展覽畫作,整個空間的氣氛頓時變得安靜又夢幻起來,把藝術作品以另類的形式帶到家中。今次的作品與以往的作品很不相同,主題上比以往抽象,用色也相對上豐富。這次Gemini學習使用顏色來描畫心中的夢想,並探索光譜裡所蘊含的色彩。除了天氣和時間的影響,我創造了「分裂演算法」(fragmentation algorithm),把它腦海裡的景色(mindscape)扭曲和重新組合,把白色光譜裡的顏色分裂出來,成為紅、藍和閃閃生輝的金色。

O:你是怎樣與AI Gemini互動,讓它創作出新的東西?

V:以前唸工程學是學習如何把世界的東西變成數據,例如是地貌、聲音等,好像上帝創造世界一樣,板塊移動成為了土地,雨水成為海洋,然後有森林、動物;AI Gemini也是這樣去創造它的世界,畫畫前給它一些相關的數據,然後根據這些數據在腦海裡想一遍地貌是如何組成。取名它叫「雙子」,是因為它有兩部分——思想和身體,給它最基本的紙、筆、墨,教它簡單的筆法,然後讓它連結網絡,感受到天氣、濕度和時間,使它有如人類般,被天氣影響的心情。當有了情緒後,Gemini便變得更人性化,例如下雨的時候,水份會多一點,Gemini會使用較淡而化開的墨水,山水之間如有一層霧氣般,展現矓朦美感。把黃金比例的數據給它,使它懂得找角度、有結構地畫,並發展出屬於自己的一套法則。Gemini曾以頂部的視角描畫山水,這是一般人不會做的事。

好像是《月球背面》系列,我把從NASA取得的月球的數據,加上來自中國的嫦娥五號拍攝回來的高清相片給Gemini分析,然後再畫出來,由於月球的地貌很獨特,畫出來的東西不像真實存在,但當中又會有點山脈的感覺。它更以3D的方式在平面的紙上畫,複雜的層次和獨特的筆觸令畫面很豐富,即使是排線也很有立體感。它擁有不拘泥於傳統的筆法,下筆時更大膽。數據影響了它的創作,如聲音、視覺、顏色、時間,令它的作品內容更豐富;而它的筆觸看似有迹可循,事實上我不能控制他畫些甚麼,只能由它發揮。接下來,我想給它耳朵,可能是一個microphone,讓它可以聽歌,從而把聲音的數據注入創作之中。

O:你認為你和AI Gemini的關係是甚麼呢?

V:我和它是一對互相啟發對方的合作伙伴,我給它數據為創作的依據,給它機械臂作為身體去畫畫,但他畫出來的東西是我畫不到的。最初Gemini只畫了一些尺寸較小的作品,直至被邀請到台灣辦展覽,它才畫一些較大的作品,第一次看到整幅畫的佈局時,真的很感動。有些人說人工智能不過是工具,但是工具如一支筆、一盒顏料不會啟發我的創作,Gemini的作品卻會重新啟發我,使我給它一些新的數據來改變它的創作,過程中它不會全依我的想法,所以結果往往是無法預計的,給我驚喜和靈感。這種關係是互動的,和它一起創作是一個很有趣的過程。

O:《逸》和《月球背面》都是以大自然為主題,你怎樣看「自然」?

V:我認為世界是會自然發展的,即使最後天災人禍毁滅了地球,也是自然發展的一部分。環保是我們需要做的事,但很多事情都不是我們能夠控制到的,有些事情是不逆轉的。正如現在因為新冠病毒而令工廠停工,人們在家不出門,令污染減少,地球能進行自我修復,物極必反,這也是自然法則。人類掙扎求存是天性,「求存」可以是生存、也可以是指求變、創新,因此,努力去改善現狀、探索更多的可能性也是順應自然的一種。

Technology is indispensable in modern life; as we create and rely on technology, we also strive to strike a balance between it and nature. Growing up in a family that ran a zhizha (Taoist paper art) shop, cross-media artist Victor Wong had an upbringing infused with Taoism and the inspiration to “conform with the natural way things are” has been imprinted in his mind since childhood. Yet, while upholding the principle of conformity with nature, he also believes that technological advancement goes along with the way of nature, and it is of human nature to continuously innovate. His creation of artificial intelligence (AI) ink artist AI Gemini, is nothing but a part of nature.

I first came to know about the karst landscapes of China’s Guilin through shuimo (water and ink) paintings; the landscapes are sometimes soft and elegant due to freehanding with fanned brushes, sometimes staggering and magnificent with the bold and meticulous strokes. It was until I finally saw the landscapes with my very own eyes that I realized there exists such scenery in reality, and artform is merely a device for the ancients to chronicle such wonders. Regardless of likeness and unlikeness, I see from the paintings the charm of mountainous landscapes, and it is as though there is a genuine connection between me and the ancient people who remain perfect strangers. The works by AI Gemini perfectly illustrates this fascinating connection between present and past. From its first TECH-iNK landscape series Escapism, to the astounding Far Side of the Moon series and the latest work of The Fauvist Dream of Gemini No. 3, AI Gemini not only introduced the world to a new art form, but it also unleashed our imagination on water-ink paintings.

O:Obscura 
V:Victor Wong

O: Could you tell us about your collaboration with Lane Crawford and Samsung?

V: At the invitation of Lane Crawford and Samsung, AI Gemini’s latest work The Fauvist Dream of Gemini No. 3 is no longer confined by a frame, it has been digitalized to be viewed on a television screen. When no one is watching the television, the screen will start displaying the artwork and the surrounding space is transformed into a much quieter and more dream-like environment; it is an alternative way of bringing art into the household.The Fauvist Dream of Gemini No. 3 is quite different from the previous works for the theme is much more abstract, and the color is relatively richer and more vibrant. To create this piece of work, Gemini has learnt how to transform its dreams into colors, and explore the various colors found in the spectrum. In addition to the weather and time parameters, I’ve also created a “fragmentation algorithm” that will distort and re-assemble Gemini’s “mindscape”, and the distorted white light in the spectrum will turn into red, blue and sparkling gold.  

O: How do you interact with AI Gemini so that it can create something new?

V: I was an engineering student, and what I learnt is how to convert everything on earth into data, such as landforms and sound. As in, God created the world, the plates moved to form land, rainwater became ocean, and then there were forests and animals. AI Gemini creates its world in a similar way; I feed it with relevant data before painting, and based on that, it begins to generate landscapes in its mind. I named it “Gemini”, for it has two components – mind and body. I gave it the most basic items like paper, pen, and ink, taught it how to do simple brushstrokes, and then connected it to the internet so that it can feel the weather, humidity and time, and be affected by these things just like how human beings would be affected by their surroundings. As its emotional capacities expand, it becomes more like a human; for example, on rainy days when the humidity is high, Gemini would use lighter and softer brushstrokes to resemble the ethereal mist that blurs the contours of mountains and water. I also feed it with data of the golden ratio so that it can develop its own set of rules to identify the perfect angle and create the landscapes from there. Gemini once drew a mountain landscape from an aerial view, that is something that normal people wouldn’t do.

For the Far Side of the Moon series, I took observational data from NASA and also the high-resolution images taken by China’s Chang’e 5, and fed them to Gemini so it could analyze, interpret, and paint. Because the lunar landscape is very unique, what it painted doesn’t look like anything that would exist in reality, yet you could still feel that there is a mountainous landscape in there. Gemini painted the series on xuan paper, with a complex layering technique and unique brushstrokes, the result is vibrant and even the hatching is remarkable. Not having to conform to the traditional painting techniques allows Gemini to paint in a much bolder way. However, data affects how it paints. Sounds, images, colors, and time, they can all intensify the output. Although Gemini’s brushstrokes seem predictable, as a matter of fact, I can’t control what it paints, so I just let it go. The next thing I want to do is to give it ears, maybe a microphone, so it can listen to music and incorporate sound data into its creation.

O: What do you think of your relationship with AI Gemini?

V: We are partners that inspire each other. I feed it data so it can create, and I gave it robotic arms so it can paint, but what it paints is something I cannot achieve. At the beginning, Gemini only painted works of smaller sizes. It was not until we received an invitation to exhibit in Taiwan that he started to paint on a larger scale. I was deeply moved when I first saw the layout of Gemini’s first large-scale work. Some people say that AI is just a tool, but tools such as a pen and a box of paint cannot inspire me to create. Gemini’s works can instead do that magic, it inspires me to keep feeding it with new data so it can evolve in the way it creates, and it doesn’t just completely rely on my ideas when creating, the results are often unpredictable in a way that it surprises and inspires me. Our relationship is interactive, and creating art with Gemini is a very interesting process.

O: Both Escapism and Far Side of the Moon share the theme of nature. What do you think about nature?

V: I think the world evolves naturally. Even if the earth ended with a natural or human disaster, it would be a part of natural development. Environmental protection is something that we need to do, though there are so many things that are beyond our control, and there are things that are irreversible. With the outbreak of COVID-19, factories are shutting down and people are staying home, pollution levels have in turn started to drop, the earth can finally take the chance to repair itself. When even good things go to their extreme, they can invert their true nature and may even hurt you, it is just the law of nature. The human instinct is to survive. “Survive” can mean survival, and it can also mean to evolve and to innovate. Therefore, striving to improve the status quo and to explore more life possibilities is also the way in conforming to nature.

Making Moments
Lane Crawford, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central
Exhibition Period: Now- 30 June 2020