This AI turns poetry into creepy video art

A computer artist and animator compiled disparate AI visualization and audio programs to create one seriously trippy tool.

Visual and audio AI modeling is giving rise to some seriously strange (not to mention seriously unethical) creations lately, from a faux-Eminem hating on Mark Zuckerberg via a fake rap diss track, to this video that imagines Zuck sporting long hair (we're assuming the Facebook CEO keeps cropping up because of his fame rather than his likeability). What's arguably more interesting, however, are the instances of encouraging AI neural net programs to envision their own, original images after being fed a quintessentially "human" (for now) art: poetry.

That's what digital artist, Glenn Marshall, set out to do with a recent project employing a classic 19th-century poem as AI-imaging fuel alongside an uncanny narration from an artificial Christopher Lee. Yes, it's about as dark, brooding, and macabre as you might imagine, and the perfect accompaniment to this ridiculous winter storm most of us are currently enduring.

Story2Hallucination is an apt program name — To accomplish their video accompaniment for Christina Rossetti's "In the Bleak Midwinter," Marshall worked with the Story2Hallucination library, which renders blocks of words into vague, generally literal imagery. If machine learning visuals aren't uncanny and dreamlike enough already, just wait until you see Story2Hallucination's attempts to illustrate the poem's "cherubim and seraphim" and someone's mother "in her maiden bliss" (spoiler: it neither looks like a mother, nor a maiden, nor any kind of recognizable bliss).

Sir Christopher Lee from beyond the grave — To make "In the Bleak Midwinter" even more, uh, bleak, Marshall then employed software called to approximate a poetic narration in the voice of the late Sir Christopher Lee. We feel it's important to note that we only know this after reading the video's details, because to be honest with you, we initially thought Marshall simply dubbed an old audio recording of Lee actually reading the poem, that's how convincing the result is.

Still a little way off from original, decent AI poetry — If there's any silver lining to the project, it's the knowledge that, although machine learning programs can now help clean up your own angsty word musings, they're still not all that great at creating their own compositions. Of course, machine-learned beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, which is why we're all still debating which Roman emperor was the hottest. No word yet from Elon Musk on the poetry or plays being created by his NeuraLink-enabled monkeys, although they do seem pretty into whatever video games they're playing.