Songs of ghosts

Pictures from the opening and from the finissage by Uwe von Loh, Klara Hartmann and Krystian Kolbe.

Limited edition prints and overview: Songs of ghosts, prints

YouTube Trailer: Songs of ghosts, trailer

Exhibition: Sept. 02 – 20, 2023: Songs of ghosts, solo exhibition

About this body of work

I have been experimenting with AI for more than a year. It was a tedious start in autumn last year. My first attempts were very discouraging. And I stopped it for a while, but when I began to upload my own images and combined them with the prompts*, things started to get interesting. And after a while, I realized it could take my creations way beyond what I thought possible.

To make it very clear, I do not see the pictures in this series as photographs. There is nothing natural in these creations, although my input made them go in that direction. They may look real but don’t get tricked; all they do is simulate the real world as good as possible. Sometimes they made me feel intrigued and sometimes frightened, but either way, walking this path is very exciting.

One of the crucial ideas behind this series is “The Verfremdungseffekt” (alienation effect) of Bertolt Brecht. He first used the term in his essay “Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting”, published in 1936, in which he described it as performing “in such a way that the audience was hindered from simply identifying itself with the characters in the play. Acceptance or rejection of their actions and utterances was meant to occur on a conscious plane, instead of, as hitherto, in the audience’s subconscious”. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distancing_effect).
I try to use this in a subtle way, but the more pictures you will see of this series, the more this idea will get dominant.

About my personal experience with AI:

The pictures of this series all inherit the DNA of my real-life photographs.
Without that, they would be meaningless to me.
The process of getting there is quite different, but there are striking similarities:
Sometimes, I feel like I am in the darkroom again, just like in the old and analogue days.
I vividly remember how magical it was to see one after the other image slowly appear in the development bath.
And quite like that, the picture feedback from the AI always slowly begins to take shape.
There is nothing cold or machine-like.
In fact, it is 1968 again, and the androids do dream of electric sheep…

* an instruction or question given to a computer in natural language (Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/)

Click in pictures for a bigger view or click here for all pictures of the series: