Stardust. An experiment in generative portraiture

Stardust generative portrait

Life is finite. Creativity isn't. An artist has the potential to create infinite artworks but only some of them will see the light due to the constraint of time. What if we use technology to outsource the creation of art so more of these potential artworks are finally created? Modelling artistic decisions into software would provide a generative assistant that could even survive an artist in the creation of meaningful works of visual art. This project is a first experiment around this concept.

Some models of human creativity describe it as a process that produces novel combinations of pre-existing ideas or objects. We curate these combinations in our human minds. We abort potential creations. This experiment in generative portraiture will be the opposite: it will give birth to as many novel combinations as possible, taking the risks of non curated creation and experimenting with the use of generative strategies to create assisted works of art. It should also raise issues about the origin of value in art: meaning to the viewer eyes, originality, authorship, scarcity, idea generation and execution dexterity.

As a theme for this series of portraits, I've choosen the concept of nucleosynthesis or the process of creation of new atomic nuclei from pre-existing matter that takes place at cosmic scale. We humans, are believed to be novel combinations of cosmic stardust. It could be argued that the whole universe is the biggest running generative art installation today. Personal beliefs will determine who we think the artist is.

This experiment, with the participation of an Internet audience, intended to produce as many artworks as possible (during a limited time, beginning 18th of June 2013 and ending the 7th of March 2014). An automated process created human portraits as generative collages, using as sources some images from the hubble space telescope. Generated portraits are being exhibited at the flickr Stardust Portrait exhibition. Participation was free and everyone was invited.

The project created more than 15.000 portraits and 14.317 of them can be seen at the flickr Stardust Portrait exhibition

A selection of media reactions about the project:

The Creators Project: Computer-Generated Portraits Created From Images Of The Universe
Wired: An Algorithm Uses Galaxies to Draw Your Portrait
Smithsonian: Cosmic Portraits Created From Hubble Space Telescope Images
Huffington Post: Sergio Albiac Uses Hubble Telescope Images To Create Hypnotic Generative Portraits
Fox News: Made of stars: Artist uses celestial photos for portraits
Designboom: Sergio Albiac: hubble telescope stardust portraits
The Washington Post: Cosmic portraits and out-of-this-world sweet treats
FastCo Create: See Your Portrait, Painted With The Cosmos
Booooooom: “Stardust” Generative Portraits by Sergio Albiac
Designcollector: Art of Sergio Albiac
Gizmodo: These Portraits Are Made from Hubble Images (And Yours Can Be, Too)
RT: Caras humanas bajo polvo cósmico: artista visual causa furor en Internet