Artificial intelligence seems to be exploring its artistic side of late, and the results are getting pretty sophisticated. To wit: A new online image processing program uses cutting-edge deep-learning algorithms to create digital paintings in the style of famous painters.
Actually, the A.I. can create new images from uploaded photos that emulate virtually any style or artist - and it's already online and free to use. More on that in a minute.
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Developed by researchers with the EPFL and other European universities, DeepArt appears to function like a standard photo filter. You upload a photo, choose a style, and get back a new image. But the technology underneath the hood is fundamentally different.
Similar to Google's Deep Dream A.I. system, which made quite the splash last summer, DeepArt uses advanced neural networking technology to create original art when provided with two or more source images.
Sort of like image recognition in reverse - or maybe sideways - the A.I. looks for patterns in Image A then replicates the patterns within the visual data of Image B. By repeatedly comparing features within the two images, back and forth, the system creates an original third image. The process takes about 10 minutes of computation time on average.
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"The neural network that we're using was initially made for object recognition," says DeepArt co-founder Lukasz Kidzinski in the demo video. "The network tries to extract very simple features from the photo, like small shapes. The next step is to try to generate a new picture which has similar representation of style that you provided. It tries to a picture that is closest to the representation of the style and the content."
The images on display at the DeepArt site are genuinely impressive, and the submission process is dead simple. Upload a personal photo, plus a famous painting, and DeepArt will email you the new image.
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Alas, art and commerce soon collide, as they have throughout history. When I uploaded a portrait photo of my second grader, plus a digital copy of Monet's famous Impression, Sunrise, I was looking forward to the results. But the system told me that, due to demand, wait time for the return image would be about 10 hours.
However, for the low, low price of 1.99 Euros, I could get the image in 15 minutes! The company also offers some additional pricing options for posters and gallery prints.
Nothing wrong with that, of course. DeepArt is an overtly commercial endeavor and, in fact, is just one of several A.I. image processing services to pop up in the wake of Google's open source Deep Dream initiative last summer. But those generated images really are pretty great. Check it out for yourself at DeepArt.io.