If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you might have stumbled across recognisable big name celebrities in oddly familiar local settings – find Rihanna and A$AP Rocky at Jurong Lake Gardens, Kim Kardashian outside of CHIJ Katong Convent, Zac Efron patting our fellow HDB felines, or Keanu Reeves changing your phone’s screen protector at Sim Lim Square. Suddenly, these superstars don't seem to be all that out of reach. But how are these images actually created?
These humorous, visually-captivating images – baffling almost – accompanied by comically localised captions, are AI-generated by visual artist Sharmain Lim, or better known as @singapore_spotting on Instagram. The photographs are generated using a programme called Midjourney, one that creates images from prompts.
Let’s rewind for a bit. Once upon a time, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a mere cinematic fantasy. But fast forward to today, this technology is gradually becoming our lived reality. So what exactly is AI? This buzzing hot new evolution is, simply put, the simulation of the human mind to problem solve, make decisions, and replace the productivity of humans (cue iRobots flashbacks).
As a full-time creative in advertising, Sharmain enjoys exploring fresh ways of self expression with new mediums. “I made this account to consolidate all the Midjourney creations I’ve done on celebrities in Singapore. And I really like the idea of localising things and making content that people can really relate to or have a good laugh at,” shares Sharmain. The account was also started as a side project to dabble into AI even more than she already does in her day job. “I think it’s a bit of both, a fun side project for me and trying to incorporate AI work in the work that I do in my day job. I feel like people are still unfamiliar with that territory and I love getting my hands dirty,” she adds.
As AI progresses, the range of useful applications it offers becomes increasingly remarkable, which in turn can also be a little unnerving – no thanks to several movies that have shown how all hell could break loose if technology starts to overrule the human race. So, it is not surprising if people have reservations about it. Sharmain, however, feels that AI is here to stay and make our lives a lot easier. “I am pro-AI to quite a big extent because it helps me with my creative process and gives me more time to come up with a vision, rather than spending time having to photoshop or DI photos to convey my ideas, especially at work. I have more time to conceptualise and really focus on the creative aspect of things," Sharmain says.
What I feel AI cannot replace is the craft and nuances that is born from ideas. AI can only do so much with the information that’s available. But to push the envelope and create new things – that is inherently human.
However as with most things, everything has its limits. "What I feel AI cannot replace is the craft and nuances that is born from ideas. AI can only do so much with the information that’s available. But to push the envelope and create new things – that is inherently human and I personally feel that’s not something AI can replicate, at least not in the years to come," she concludes.
Enjoy a good chuckle and view the rest of her intriguing images here.