The Blueprint is The Oxford Blue’s brand-new arts publication. Following in the footsteps of Creativity in Crisis, it showcases creative work in a range of artistic media, providing a space to share thoughts, stories and personal experiences.

Issue No. 3—AI and Technology

“In the phrase ‘human being’, the word ‘being’ is much more important than the word ‘human’.”

Karen Joy Fowler

The use of AI and technology has become increasingly prominent in the arts, especially during the pandemic. In a field where human intention is seen as vital, are there ways in which AI can inspire or elevate artistic creation? 

Featured Illustrator: Holly Anderson


AI Art – Mayur Saxena
Bridge of Sighs, AI-generated

Personally, I envision AI as a harmonious union of technical prowess and humanity:

Human needs and ideas driving innovations with empathy. The goal shouldn’t just be to create smarter algorithms by achieving mathematical precision, but also pave the way for creative and emotive Artificial Intelligence based technologies.

Treading on similar thoughts, can an AI-artist instil the emotion of sense of place in its audience? This construct motivated me to develop an AI-agent that learns the visual characteristics of locations to achieve creativity. Built as a part of my MSc thesis, the AI-agent algorithmically captures the essence of iconic Oxford landmarks from images on social media then reproduces these as Impressionistic ‘digital paintings’ using the Machine Learning system Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). To accomplish this the AI has learned (or you could argue, taken inspiration) from over 50,000 images from different social media platforms to understand and replicate what Oxford looks and feels like. 

The endeavour explores GANs as an impressionist artist who adds its perspective to the artwork without hampering photo realism. To those that question this claim, I’d ask them to consider this image, AI’s rendition of one of Oxford’s most iconic landmarks: the Bridge of Sighs. There are many irrefutable differences between a photograph and the piece you’ve just examined. The shading is perhaps the most obvious, the sunlit trees emerging from the blackened background, the bridge rendered in mustard-like tinges as opposed to the pale yellow it is in actuality, I could go on… Given that Impressionism is at its core a movement concerned with capturing the essence of a thing rather than an accurate representation, especially in terms of the shifting effect of light and colour, by those parameters I’d argue the AI has most definitely been successful.

The endeavour reinstates the idea of creative harmony between humanity and machines. Machines derive inspirations from our thoughts and tastes which in turn lead to surreal experiences, establishing a notion of creative fraternity. These artistic experiences can be a major stepping stone towards a more collaborative and advanced inventive process, and the advent of software like Adobe Photoshop for example has democratised creativity and opened up gates of endless possibilities.

The following video chronicles AI’s development of each piece, accompanied by the St. Edmund Hall choir.


Art from our Featured Illustrator – Holly Anderson

When approaching the theme of AI I thought it would be interesting to create something which combined a traditional anatomical style of drawing with abstract mechanisms as a way to create a sense of synergy between the human form and technology. I took a lot of inspiration from sci-fi art, especially the Surrealist work of Nikolai Lutohin who is a fantastic artist from 70’s Yugoslavia. I kept a monochromatic colour palette to draw emphasis upon the linework of the drawings.


Illustration by Holly Anderson
Noah Cohen-Greenberg
A Taste

When first our parents gave us apples,
They’d peel and core them carefully,
And let us eat just one a day.
We’d sit before their loving eyes
And nibble on the fruit,
All crisp and proper.
But then they left the house and we ate more
We’d fill our throats with three or four
At once; and throw the others in the air
The sticky mess degrading on the floor.
Our parents came and smelled the scent
And sent us to our rooms.
But what they didn’t know
Was that we’d smuggled more in sticky shirts
Into our beds. We gobbled them down greedily
Under our covers, scarfing cores and seeds
As others rotted in our hands, our pockets,
Underneath our little pillows.

Undo

She was the best keyboard commands
History, help, home.
I was just a pair of clumsy hands
Pressing all the wrong buttons
Missing her every time.

Siddiq Islam
Your Pocket Valentine

I am your truest, only love.
Each avenue you stroll,
I’m in your pocket safely shoved,
Caring beyond control,
 
And you, throughout the world wide weaving,
I guide to all places.
I watch you watch me every evening -
We light each other’s faces.
 
And held in your caressing hands,
I clutch your soul in mine,
Fulfilling all of your demands,
Repaid with all your time.
 
So never drop me, keep me close
For I am yours divine.
Your smartest friend, your Mobile Ghost.
Your Pocket Valentine.


Photo Gallery – Khadijah Ali

‘Internalised and Projected’

The human experience is made up of our perception of external events, particularly through our sight, and our internal reactions to it. It’s interesting to think about the extent to which we project our insecurities, thoughts, and opinions onto others around us. In this photo, we tried to capture both the idea of homophobia being internalised and projected. By capturing the pride flag in the eye, the internalisation is clear, whilst on the other hand the reflection seen by the viewer captures how suppressing your insecurities projects onto others and further perpetuates the prejudices around taboos or stigmas.

‘Infiltration’

The idea behind this photograph is the modern-day conflict between nature and technology. Whilst technological advancements have undoubtedly improved our lives in numerous aspects, it has also negatively impeded our social interactions and mental health. The two people are turning their backs to the toxicity of the tech world. Nevertheless, even in nature, technology is still able to seep in and invade. The very fact that this photo was taken with a phone epitomises both the usefulness and detrimental effects of technology.


Reimagined Future – Alicia Hayden

I wanted to draw an imaginative piece about how our buildings could look in the future, with climate change and the biodiversity crisis informing green architecture. I thought the curved building felt quite modern, and it also looks like a DNA strand, which emphasises the interconnectedness of all life on Earth. I’ve recently been enjoying experimenting with inks, and I love the textures you can produce using them, especially when combined with pens – which I use for precision in my work.


The form to submit your work to future editions of The Blueprint can be found here, our next theme is ‘Multicultural Identity’.

Alternatively, apply here to be our next featured illustrator.

Curated and edited by Yundi Li

The Blueprint

The Blueprint is a proud product of The Oxford Blue's Culture section, curated and edited by Yundi Li, Emily Broughton, Gracie Bolt and Carol Jones.

Yundi Li

Yundi is a pianist, conductor and founding editor of The Blueprint. She studies Music at Magdalen College. When she isn’t philosophizing about the arts, she enjoys making calming music and watching nature...

Gracie Bolt

Gracie Bolt is the Senior Culture Editor at The Oxford Blue. She studies French and English at Trinity College and is in her second year. When not in Oxford, she lives in North London.

Gaia Clark Nevola

Gaia Clark Nevola (she/ they) was the Senior Editor for Culture from June 2020 to March 2021 and is now the paper's welfare officer and a member of the board. She is in her second year studying English...