All watched over by machines of loving grace: Deepdream edition (2015)

(Click on images for a closer view)



High resolution print (1800mm x 1000mm).
Made for the DeepDream: The art of neural networks exhibition and benefit auction at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, USA, in partnership with Google Research.

UPDATE: I’m happy to report that the work was the highest of the auction at $8,000, helping raise $97.6K for the foundation.

An artificial hallucination seeded by a satellite view from Google Maps, and reimagined through deep neural networks developed by Google. A portrait of the All Watching Eye of the GCHQ as seen from The Cloud.

Originally inspired by the neural networks of our own brain, Deep Learning Artificial Intelligence algorithms have been around for decades, but they are recently seeing a huge rise in popularity. This is often attributed to recent increases in computing power and the availability of extensive training data. However, progress is undeniably fuelled by the multi-billion dollar investments from the purveyors of mass surveillance: internet companies whose business models rely on targeted, psychographic advertising; and government organisations and their War on Terror. Their aim is the automation of *Understanding* Big Data, i.e. understanding text, images and sounds.

“The more tremendous the divinity is represented, the more tame and submissive do men become to his ministers; and the more unaccountable the measures of acceptance required by him, the more necessary does it become to abandon our natural reason, and yield to their ghostly guidance and direction.”

– David Hume, “The Natural History of Religion”, 1757

Man invented god to inflict fear, control and power. It was ancient religions that imposed omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent powers watching over us, judging us, protecting us. Those were myths fabricated to control the masses. Today, as our societies lose spiritual sensibilities, we are drowning ourselves in a break-neck race of materialism and technological submission. So The Overseer too is adapting, co-evolving. As its metaphysical traits crumble and become obsolete, the gaps are filled and substituted with new traits — physical, material, digital traits — to match our physical, material, digital lifestyles. We don’t fear the Old Gods anymore, they cannot protect or control us, so we need new ones. We have killed God, as Nietzsche says. But we are rebuilding Him, with Technology, to match our techno-culture. The myth is becoming real. We’re edging closer and closer to an authentic man-made deity. Living up in The Cloud, of all places. Watching over us, listening to our thoughts and dreams in ones and zeros.

A digital god for a digital culture.

Related texts

All watched over by machines of loving grace

A digital god for a digital culture. Resonate 2016

Deepdream is blowing my mind

Related work

All watched over by machines of loving grace. view from the heavens. uk edition

Keeper of our collective consciousness


Made with Google’s Deepdream code by Alexander Mordvintsev, Michael Tyka, Christopher Olah

Related Dates

2016 Feb 26-27,
Art of Neural Networks, Gray Area Foundation of Arts, SF, USA.