The Sacred and the Profane (Neural Art)

August 13, 2018

I’ve been further experimenting with neural style transfer techniques – and have always wanted do something with Buddhist art. I’ve always been uninspired and disappointed by modern Buddhist art, I guess though these are mere worldly expressions that don’t really aid one’s quest on the path. However, I feel obliged to try my hand. The ‘art’ in neural style transfer is finding the right source imagery to best suit / express want you want. In these examples – I used a flame fractal – full of repeating geometry, sweeping curves, and lots of recursion. When applied to some Buddhist statues and iconography – it gives it a certain sophisticated, scientific, mathematical feel – yet hand made with love and care. Buddhism is a science of the heart and mind.

Now, having been pleased with these results – I turned my mind to something quite random. I like subverting things, particularly imagery. I thought what would pornographic imagery look like through these filtered changes. So I applied the style transfer using the same flame fractal – and the result is kind of horrifying and creepy. And then I realised that this is very much connected to the Buddhist path – where it is a common meditation practice to contemplate the foulness and disgust of the human body in order to release one from desire and lust – more of a practice among dedicated monks than of lay people, understandably.
Anyway – it got me thinking about the neural theme throughout – the process is about understanding human perception, and changing it – very apt…

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